4 Big Changes to the Internet from the Past Decade

Since its launch, the internet has been one of the key drivers of technology. The past 10 years have especially been critical in shaping up the internet as we know it today. Although the period can’t be really be described as evolutionary – for example, we still use IPv4 even though IPv6 was introduced in 2012 – it has seen the coming together of different technologies courtesy of the internet and even the development of new technologies.

If you do a 10-year challenge of the internet as we knew it in 2009, you will notice that there have been some huge changes. These can be seen in personal communication, banking, shopping, etc. Here are 4 of those big changes.

The Dark Web

The major development of the dark web happened in 2002 when Tor (The Onion Router) was released. The US government had developed it as a way of keeping their operatives untraceable on the internet.

However, it wasn’t until the early 2010’s that the dark web, as we know it today, was born. This was after Tor met cryptocurrency following the release of Bitcoin in 2009. After the two were combined, the Silk Road was born. This was an online black market and the first modern darknet market, and it was notorious for selling illegal drugs. The platform was eventually brought down by authorities, but it had already pioneered an era of illicit goods and services over the dark web.

However, the dark web is more than just illegal stuff, and you learn more about it and how to access it safely here.

The Era of Social Media

The mid-2000s saw the emergence of social media, with Facebook and Twitter becoming accessible in 2006. However, social media was a different monster back then, and MySpace was the leader of this field.

However, it wasn’t until the start of the past decade that social media began to make its mark. One of the most significant changes happened in 2010 when photo-sharing became a thing on the internet. This saw the introduction of Instagram and Pinterest, and the memes followed.
Over the years, social media has grown to something that almost everybody uses every day, and a powerful tool too. This was evident in the 2016 US presidential election, and in various movements such as the #MeToo movement.

Data & Surveillance

Over the last 10 years, internet user information has grown from insignificant at the end of the 2000s, to one of the most powerful tools today. At the start of the decade, governments started collecting user data from the internet, which led to Edward Snowden, then-National Security Agency contractor, leaking information on NSA surveillance in 2013.

It also saw social media platforms begin to collect user data, with Facebook being slated for changing ToS without informing users. Today, data drives the internet, and breaches cost millions.

The Application Boom

The Apple App Store and Google Play Store were launched in July and October 2018, respectively. In 2010, the word ‘App’ became a word of the year, according to the American Dialect Society. From there, there’s been a huge change in the use of the internet, with people migrating from browsers to apps.

Today, almost all essential and everyday services can be accessed from apps. Most companies also rely on apps to market and sell their products and services. There are over 5 million apps on the internet.

What’s Next?

The nature of technology is that it keeps on changing. In 2009, you would have imagined how primitive 1999 technology looked. However, most of the internet basis has been laid, and now the next era will be that of integration with other technologies, especially AI and IoT. Autonomous cars? The talk of 6G? Maybe someday we’ll even be able to upload our subconscious to the cloud!

Sumith Kumar is an online gaming and futuristic tech editor with a decade of experience. He holds a B.A. in Computer Science and is known for his deep insights into virtual reality and AI in gaming. When offline, he's a drone racing enthusiast and a creative photographer.


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