Internet or the internetwork is a decentralized set of interconnected communications networks, using the TCP/IP family of protocols, which guarantees that the heterogeneous physical networks that compose it constitute a single logical network of global reach. Its origins date back to 1969, when the first computer connection, known as ARPANET, was established between three universities in California (United States).

Most used languages (2015)
  • English (25.9%)
  • Chinese (20.9%)
  • Spanish (7.6%)
  • Arabic (5.0%)
  • Portuguese (3.9%)
  • Japanese (3.4%)
  • Russian (3.1%)
  • Malay (2.9%)
  • French (2.9%)
  • German (2.5%)
Users by continent (2015)
  • Asia (48.2%)
  • Europe (18.0%)
  • Latin America (10.2%)
  • Africa (9.8%)
  • North America (9.3%)
  • Middle East (3.7%)
  • Oceania (0.8%)

One of the most successful services on the Internet has been the World Wide Web (WWW or the Web), to such an extent that confusion between the two terms is common. The WWW is a set of protocols that allows, in a simple way, the remote consultation of hypertext files. This was a later development (1990) and uses the internet as a means of transmission.

There are, therefore, many other services and protocols on the Internet, apart from the Web: sending e-mail (SMTP), transmitting files (FTP and P2P), online conversations (IRC), instant messaging and presence, transmitting multimedia content and communication (telephony (VoIP), television (IPTV)), electronic newsletters (NNTP), remote access to other devices (SSH and Telnet) or online games.

Internet use has grown rapidly in the Western Hemisphere since the mid-1990s and since the 2000s in the rest of the world. In the 20 years since 1995, internet use has increased 100-fold, covering a third of the world’s population by 2015.

Most communication industries, including telephony, radio, television, postal mail, and traditional newspapers are being transformed or redefined by the Internet and enabled the birth of new services such as e-mail, Internet telephony, Internet television, digital music, and digital video. The newspaper, book and other print media publishing industries are adapting to website technology, or are being converted into blogs, web feeds or news aggregators. The Internet has also enabled or accelerated new forms of personal interaction through instant messaging, Internet forums, and social networks. E-commerce has grown exponentially both by large chains and small and medium-sized companies or entrepreneurs since they can now sell products or services online to everyone. Business-to-business and financial services on the Internet affect supply chains across industries.

The Internet does not have single centralized governance neither in technological implementation nor in access and use policies; Each constituent network sets its own policies. The over definitions of the two main namespaces on the Internet, the Internet Protocol (IP address) and the Domain Name System (DNS), are run by a maintaining organization, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The technical basis and standardization of core protocols is an activity of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), an international non-profit organization.


The word Internet (also interred) is simply a contraction of the phrase interconnected network. However, when written with a capital “I” the Internet refers to a worldwide set of interconnected networks, so the Internet is an internetwork.

Origin of Internet

ARPANet Logical Schematic, March 1977
ARPANet Logical Scheme, March 1977

Its origins date back to the 1960s, within ARPA (today DARPA, the acronym in English of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), as a response to the need of this organization to find better ways to use the computers of that time, but faced with the problem that the main researchers and laboratories wanted to have their own computers, This was not only more costly but also caused duplication of effort and resources. The true origin of the Internet was born with ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network of the United States), which bequeathed the layout of an initial high-speed communications network to which other government institutions and academic networks were integrated during the 70s.

Researchers, scientists, professors and students benefited from communication with other institutions and colleagues in their field, as well as from the possibility of consulting the information available in other academic and research centers. They also enjoyed the new ability to publish and make available to others the information generated in their activities.

In July 1961, Leonard Kleinrock published from MIT the first paper on packet switching theory. Kleinrock convinced Lawrence Roberts of the theoretical feasibility of packet rather than circuit communications, which proved to be a breakthrough on the road to networked computing. The other fundamental step was to make the computers dialogue with each other. To explore this terrain, in 1965, Roberts connected a TX2 computer in Massachusetts with a Q-32 in California via a low-speed switched telephone line, thus creating the first (albeit reduced) wide-area computer network ever built.

  • 1969: The first interconnected network was born on November 21, 1969, when the first link between the universities of UCLA and Stanford was created by means of a switched telephone line, and thanks to the previous work and studies of several scientists and organizations since 1959. The myth that ARPANET, the first network, was built simply to survive nuclear attacks remains very popular. However, this was not the only reason. While it is true that ARPANET was designed to survive network failures, the real reason for this was that the switching nodes were unreliable, as attested in the following quote:

In the wake of a RAND study, the false rumor spread that ARPANET was designed to withstand a nuclear attack. This was never true, only an RAND study, unrelated to the ARPANET, considered nuclear war in the secure transmission of voice communications. However, later work emphasized the robustness and survivability of large portions of the underlying networks. (Internet Society, A Brief History of the Internet)

  • 1972: The first public demonstration of ARPANET, a new DARPA-funded communications network that operated distributed over the switched telephone network, is conducted. The success of this new architecture led DARPA in 1973 to initiate a research program on possible techniques for interconnecting networks (oriented to packet traffic) of different classes. To this end, they developed new communications protocols that would allow this exchange of information in a “transparent” way for connected computers. From the philosophy of the project came the name “Internet”, which was applied to the system of networks interconnected using TCP and IP protocols.
  • 1983: On January 1, the ARPANET changes the NCP protocol to TCP/IP. That same year, the ISP was created in order to standardize the TCP/IP protocol and provide research resources to the Internet. On the other hand, the function of mapping identifiers was focused on the IANA which, later, delegated part of its functions to the Internet registry which, in turn, provides services to the DNS. 
  • 1986: NSF begins the development of NSFNET, which became the Internet’s premier tree-growing network, later supplemented by NSINET and ESNET networks, all in the United States. At the same time, other backbone networks in Europe, both public and commercial, along with American ones formed the basic backbone of the Internet.
  • 1989: With the integration of OSI protocols into the architecture of the Internet, the current trend begins to allow not only the interconnection of networks of disparate structures but also to facilitate the use of different communications protocols. Between the end of 1989 and the beginning of 1990, at CERN in Geneva, a group of physicists led by Tim Berners-Lee created the HTML language based on SGML, and also the most popular service on the Internet: the World Wide Web (WWW).
  • 1990: The same team at CERN builds the first web client, called first WorldWideWeb and then Nexus, and the first web server.

At the beginning of the 1990s, with the introduction of new interconnection facilities and simple graphic tools for the use of the network, the Internet boom that is currently known begins. This massive growth brought with it the emergence of a new profile of users, mostly ordinary people not linked to the academic, scientific and government sectors.

This called into question the U.S. government’s subsidy for the maintenance and management of the network, as well as the existing ban on commercial use of the Internet. The events happened quickly and by 1993 the ban on the commercial use of the Internet had been lifted and the transition to a non-governmental management model that would allow, in turn, the integration of private networks and access providers had been defined. On April 30, 1993, the Web entered the public domain, as CERN handed out the technologies free of charge for anyone to use.

  • 1993: On April 22, 1993, Mosaic appears, the first web browser that allowed you to view text and graphics online – until then you could only see the graphics by accessing the links in the text. It was created by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) and paved the way for later browsers. According to the NCSA, Internet traffic increased 10-fold in just one year thanks to Mosaic.
  • 1995: Another important date was April 30, 1995. On this day, the original NSFNET backbone is shut down, officially turning the network into an original tree into an interconnection graph. In any case, the loading of the backbone on that date already carried only the exchange of a small part of the Internet traffic.
  • 2006: On January 3, the Internet reaches one hundred million users. In addition, the number of Internet surfers was expected to increase to 2 billion in ten years.

The first fact that draws attention is the increase in the number of users using the Internet. In those ten years, it has gone from 559 million to 2270 million people sailing worldwide, equivalent to 33% of the total world population, a figure much higher than the 9.1% in 2002.

The result of all this is what is experienced today: the transformation of a huge communications network for government use, planned and built with state funds, which has evolved into a myriad of interconnected private networks, which anyone can access. Currently, the network experiences every day the integration of new networks and users, extending its breadth and domain, while new markets, technologies, institutions and companies emerge that take advantage of this new medium, whose potential is just beginning to be discovered.

As mentioned, a computer network is a set of machines that communicate through some means (coaxial cable, fiber optics, radio frequency, telephone lines, etc.) in order to share resources.

In this way, the Internet serves as a link between smaller networks and allows them to expand their coverage by making them part of a “global network”. This global network has the characteristic that it uses a common language that guarantees the intercommunication of the different participants; This common language or protocol (a protocol is the language computers use when sharing resources) is known as TCP/IP.

Thus, the Internet is the “network of networks” that uses TCP/IP as its communication protocol.

The Internet is an acronym for INTERconnected NETworks. For others, the Internet is an acronym for the English INTERnational NET, which translated into Spanish would be “World Network”.

Internet technology

Routing and service layers

Encapsulation plot in data packets
Encapsulation plot in data packets

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) connect clients, who represent the lowest part of the routing hierarchy, with other clients of other ISPs through higher or peer network layers. At the top of the routing hierarchy are layer 1 networks, large telecommunications companies that exchange traffic directly with each other through interconnection agreements. Layer 2 and lower-level networks buy Internet traffic from other providers to reach at least some parts of the global Internet, although they may also participate in interconnection. An ISP can use a single provider for connectivity or deploy multi-homing for redundancy and load balancing. Neutral points have the most important traffic loads and have physical connections to multiple ISPs.

Computers and routers use routing tables to route IP packets between locally connected machines. Tables can be constructed manually or automatically via DHCP for an individual computer or a routing protocol for the routers themselves. A default route usually points “up” to an ISP that provides the transport. Top-tier ISPs use the Border Gateway Protocol to resolve paths to a certain range of IP addresses over complex global Internet connections.

Academic institutions, large enterprises, governments, and other organizations can perform the same role as ISPs, engaging in exchanging traffic and transit purchasing on behalf of their internal networks of individual computers. Research networks tend to interconnect into large subnets such as GEANT, GLORIAD, Internet2, and the UK’s National Education and Research Network, JANET. These in turn are built around smaller networks (see list of academic computer network organizations).

Not all computer networks are connected to the Internet. For example, some classified State websites are only accessible from separate secure networks.

Internet access

Internet access or Internet connection is the link system that the computer, mobile device or computer network has to connect to the Internet, which allows them to view web pages from a browser and access other services offered by the Internet, such as email, instant messaging, file transfer protocol (FTP), and so on. The Internet can be accessed from a switched line connection, fixed broadband (via coaxial cable, fiber optic cables or copper), via satellite, mobile broadband and cellular or mobile phones with 2G/3G/4G/5G technology. In the second decade of the s. XXI switched telephone line connections begin to decline due in part to the advent of fiber optics, and also due to the fact that traditional copper pair telephone lines fell into disuse in European and North American countries. Companies that grant Internet access are called Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

Public places of Internet use include libraries and Internet cafes, where computers with Internet connections are available. There are also Internet access points in many public places, such as airport lounges and coffee shops, in some cases only for short-term uses. Several terms are used, such as “Internet kiosk”, “public access terminal” and “public Web telephones”. Many hotels now also have public-use terminals, which are usually fee-based. These terminals are very visited by several customers, for ticket reservations, bank deposits, online payments, etc. In turn, Wi-Fi offers wireless access to computer networks, and therefore, it can do so to the Internet itself. These services can be free for everyone, for customers only, or paid. An access point does not have to be limited to a confined location. An entire campus or park, or even an entire city can be activated.

The efforts have resulted in community wireless networks. Commercial Wi-Fi services cover large areas of cities such as London, Vienna, Toronto, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Chicago and Pittsburgh. The Internet can be accessed from places such as a park bench. Apart from Wi-Fi, experiments have been conducted with wireless mobile networks properties such as Ricochet, various high-speed data services over cellular phone networks, and fixed wireless services. High-end mobile phones, such as smartphones in general, have Internet access through the telephone network. Web browsers like Opera are available on these smartphones, which can also run a wide variety of internet software. Internet access via mobile phones surpassed access via PCs for the first time in October 2016. The Internet service provider and the protocol matrix differ in the methods used to obtain access.

An internet outage or outage can be caused by local signaling outages. Undersea communications cable outages can cause blackouts or slowdowns over large areas, such as in the 2008 submarine cable outage. Less developed countries are more vulnerable due to a small number of high-capacity links. Ground cables are also vulnerable, as in 2011, when a woman digging for scrap metal cut off most connectivity in Armenia. Blackouts affecting almost the entire internet can be achieved by governments as a form of censorship, as in Egypt’s 2011 Internet shutdown, in which approximately 93% of networks could not be accessed, in an attempt to stop the mobilization of anti-government protests.

Mobile Internet

Global broadband subscriptions
  2007 2010 2016 2019
World population 6600 million 6900 million 7300 million 7750 million
Fixed broadband 5 % 8 % 11.9 % 14.5 %
Developing countries 2 % 4 % 8.2 % 11.2 %
Developed countries 18 % 24 % 30.1 % 33.6 %
Mobile broadband 4% 11 % 49.4 % 83 %
Developing countries 1 % 4 % 40.9 % 75.2 %
Developed countries 19 % 43 % 90.3 % 121.7 %
Source: International Telecommunication Union.

The internet can be accessed from almost anywhere on Earth via mobile devices. Mobile phones or smartphones, data cards, portable game consoles and cell phone routers allow users to connect to the Internet wirelessly. Within the limitations imposed by small screens and other limited facilities of these handheld devices, Internet services, including email and the web, may be available to the general public.

A UNESCO report estimated that mobile internet connectivity has played an important role in expanding access in recent years, especially in Asia-Pacific and Africa. The number of mobile subscriptions increased from 3.89 billion in 2012 to 4.83 billion in 2016, two-thirds of the world’s population, with more than half of subscriptions located in Asia and the Pacific. The number of subscriptions was forecast to increase to 5.69 billion users by 2020. Access to a broadband cellular network via 4G and 5G has increased in recent years.

Domain names

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the authority that coordinates the assignment of unique identifiers on the Internet, including domain names, Internet Protocol addresses, protocol port numbers, and parameter numbers. A unified global name (i.e., a system of unique names to sustain each domain) is essential for the Internet to function.

ICANN is headquartered in California, overseen by an International Board of Directors with technical, commercial, academic and NGO communities. The U.S. government continues to play a privileged role in approved changes to the Domain Name System. As the Internet is a distributed network encompassing many voluntarily interconnected networks, the Internet, as such, has no governing body. Some of the domains used are: .tk, .com, .es, .gob, .edu, .net, .org, among others.


A search engine is defined as a computer system that indexes files stored on web servers when information on a topic is requested. By means of keywords, the exploration is carried out and the search engine shows a list of addresses with the related topics. There are different ways to classify search engines according to the polling process they perform. The most frequent classification divides them into:

  • The indexes or web directories: are systems created with the purpose of designing a catalog by topics, defining the classification, so it can be considered that the contents offered on these pages already have a certain order and quality. The function of this type of system is to present some of the data of the most important pages, from the point of view of the subject and not of what they contain. Search results for these indexes can be very limited as topic directories and address databases are very small, and page content may not be fully up to date.
  • Search engines: are the most commonly used, based on applications called spiders (“spiders “) or robots, which search for information based on written words, making a compilation of the content of the pages and showing, as a result, those that contain the word or phrase somewhere in the text.
  • Metasearch engines are systems that locate information in the most used search engines, perform analysis and select their own results. They do not have a database, so they do not store web pages and perform an automatic search in the databases of other search engines, from which they take a certain range of records with the most relevant results in order to have the necessary information. The function of this type of system is to present some of the data of the most important pages, from the point of view of the subject and not of what they contain. Search results for these indexes can also be very limited as topic directories and address databases are very small, and page content may not be fully up to date.


ICANN Headquarters in the Playa Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, United States
ICANN Headquarters in the Playa Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, United States

The Internet is a global network comprising many voluntarily interconnected autonomous networks, so it operates without a central governing body. The technical foundation and standardization of core protocols (IPv4 and IPv6) is an activity of the Internet Engineering Working Group (IETF), a non-profit organization of international participants in which anyone can partner by contributing technical expertise. To maintain interoperability, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) manages the Internet’s main namespaces. ICANN is governed by an international board of directors drawn from all technical, commercial, academic, and non-commercial Internet communities. ICANN coordinates the assignment of unique identifiers for use on the Internet, including domain names, Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, application port numbers in transport protocols, and many other parameters. Globally unified namespaces are essential to maintaining the global reach of the Internet. ICANN’s role distinguishes it as perhaps the only central coordinating body for the global Internet.

Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) were established for five regions of the world. The African Network Information Center (AfriNIC) for Africa, the American Internet Registry of Numbers (ARIN) for North America, the Asia-Pacific Network Information Center (APNIC) for the Asia-Pacific region, the Latin American and Caribbean Internet Address Registry (LACNIC) for Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Réseaux IP Européens Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC) for Europe. The Middle East and Central Asia were delegated to assign blocks of addresses and Internet parameters to other local registries, such as Internet service providers, within a designated pool of addresses reserved for each region.

Other relevant actors are the Internet Society (ISOC), a non-profit organization founded in 1992 with the mission of ensuring the open development, evolution and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people around the world. Also, on 16 November 2005, the United Nations-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis established the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) to discuss Internet-related issues.


Internet Users

Internet users in the world
  2005 2010 2017 2019 2021
World population 6500 million 6900 million 7400 million 7750 million 7900 million
Total users 16 % 30 % 48 % 53.6 % 63%
Developing countries 8 % 21 % 41.3 % 47 % 57%
Developed countries 51 % 67 % 81 % 86.6 % 90%
Source: International Telecommunication Union. 

Overall, Internet use has seen tremendous growth. From 2000 to 2009, the number of Internet users in the world increased from 394 to 1858 million. In 2010, 22 percent of the world’s population had access to computers, with one billion daily searches on Google, 300 million Internet users reading blogs, and 2 billion videos viewed daily on YouTube.

Languages used on the Internet
Languages used on the Internet (2015)

The predominant language of communication on the Internet has been English. This may be a result of the origin of the Internet, as well as the role of English as a lingua franca. Early computer systems were limited to the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII), a subset of the Latin alphabet.

After English (27%), the most requested languages on the World Wide Web are Chinese (23%), Spanish (8%), Japanese (5%), Portuguese and German (4% each), Arabic, French and Russian (3% each) and Korean (2%). By region, 42% of Internet users in the world are in Asia, 24% in Europe, 14% in North America, 10% in Ibero-America and the Caribbean, adopted together; 6 percent in Africa, 3 percent in the Middle East and 1 percent in Oceania. Internet technologies have developed sufficiently in recent years, especially in the use of Unicode, which with good facilities are available for development and communication in the most widely used languages of the world. However, there are still some problems such as incorrect display of characters from some languages.

In a 2005 U.S. study, the percentage of men using the Internet was very slightly higher than the percentage of women, although this difference is reversed in those under 30. Men go online more often, spend more time online, and are more likely to be broadband users, while women tend to make greater use of communication opportunities (such as email).

Men were more likely to use the Internet to pay their bills, participate in auctions, and for recreation, such as downloading music and videos. Men and women were equally likely to use the Internet for shopping and banking. The most recent studies indicate that in 2008, women outnumbered men significantly on most social networking sites, such as Facebook and Myspace, although relationships varied with age. In addition, women watched more streaming content, while men downloaded more. As for blogging, men were more prone to blogging in the first place; In addition, men were more likely to have a professional blog, while women were more likely to have a personal blog.


The number of web pages on the Internet has grown exponentially. A 2005 study using different search engines (Google, MSN, Yahoo! and Ask Jeeves) estimated that there were 11.5 billion Web pages. Another study from 2008 estimated that the number had risen to 63,000 million web pages. In 2019 it is estimated that the indexed web reaches 6 billion pages.

However, it is difficult to establish the exact size of the Internet, since it is continuously growing and there is no reliable way to access all its content and, consequently, to determine its size. To estimate this amount, the websites indexed by the different search engines are used, but this method does not cover all online pages. Using this criterion, the Internet can be divided into:

  • Surface Internet: Includes services indexed by search engines.
  • Deep Internet: Includes other non-indexed services such as Flash pages, password-protected pages, inaccessible to spiders, etc.

Specific services or applications

As for social networks, as of March 24, 2016, Facebook had more than 1,936 million users, Twitter had more than 319 million and Google had more than 434 million. About 700 photos are posted on Instagram every second, and also, every second almost three thousand emails are sent and approximately two thousand Skype calls are made.

More than 2,566,000,000 Google searches are performed daily and more than 119,000 videos are viewed on YouTube every second. In addition, it should be borne in mind that the Internet handles traffic of more than 33,000 GB per second, consumes 1,763,000 MWh per day and 1.5 million tons of CO2 are released daily by Internet consumption.

Current use

The Internet offers many applications and services, most notably the World Wide Web, including social networking, email, mobile applications, online multiplayer games, Internet telephony, file sharing, and media streaming services. Most of the servers that provide these services are currently hosted in data centers, and content is often accessed through high-performance content delivery networks.

Distributed education

Teaching materials at all levels, from preschool to post-doctoral, can be found available on websites. Examples range from CBeebies, to school and high school resources, review guides, virtual universities, to access to high-end academic literature through the Google Scholar program. You will also find resources for distance education, help with homework and other assignments, guided self-study, entertainment or simply looking for more information about an interesting fact. It’s never been easier for people to access educational information at any level, from anywhere. The Internet in general is an important enabler of both formal and informal education.

Collaborative and remote work

The low cost and almost instantaneous exchange of ideas, knowledge and skills have definitely made collaborative work easier, with the help of collaboration software. Chat, whether in the form of an IRC chat room or a channel, through an instant messaging system, or a social networking website, allows colleagues to stay in touch in a very convenient way when working on their computers during the day. Messages can be exchanged more quickly and conveniently via email. These systems can allow files to be exchanged, drawings and images to be shared, and also to communicate via voice and video by team members.

Content management systems allow teams to collaborate, and work together on shared documents at the same time, without accidentally destroying each other’s work. Business and project teams can share calendars, as well as documents and other information. This collaboration occurs in a wide variety of areas, including scientific research, software development, conference planning, political activism, and creative writing, among others. Mass collaboration is becoming more widespread, as is access to the Internet and the dissemination of computer skills.

The Internet allows computer users to remotely access other computers and information stores easily, wherever they are. They can do this with or without computer security, i.e. authentication and encryption, depending on the requirements. This is encouraging, as it generates new ways of working, collaborating and transmitting information in many industries.

Social Networking Services

A social networking service (SNS), also known as social media or simply as a social network, is a digital platform that allows you to establish contact with other people through a website or other computer application. It is made up of a set of teams, servers, programs, drivers, transmitters, receivers, and above all by people who share a relationship, mainly friendship and these maintain interests and activities in common or are interested in exploring the interests and activities of other users.

Mostly social networks are used to communicate with people regardless of the country they are from, and without the conventional limitations of email or phone calls and videoconferencing, in which although there are services that allow group conversations, they do not grant the time, space or certain tools available to social networking services. Social networking services are often accessed through technology such as smart devices and can be grouped by categories according to the purpose for which they are used.

Internet Search

To search for information it is not enough to have a computer or other device with Internet access, but you need strategies to find what you are looking for and determine if it is relevant and reliable. Adults should assume a role of guides, accompanying and advising in a situation of information search, since sometimes even having strategies and resorting to reliable sites the results may not be as expected.

Likewise, it is necessary to understand that each search engine establishes its own search criteria, being, in general, to place the most searched page first, which will not necessarily be the most accurate, but it is a criterion of popularity, or those who have paid for that place may also be highlighted. Surely users do not know all the criteria that search engines establish, but understanding that these criteria are arbitrarily defined by the companies that own these search engines takes away from them the status of “almighty” and demands from those who perform the search a more critical position to decide with which result to stay, or to redefine the searches trying to improve them.

In the article “Internet Search in Study Situations: The Senses That Students Construct, “Perelman et al. (2007) analyze searches of different students and among their conclusions, they state that “it becomes essential to design teaching conditions so that the interpretations they make in their searches and the selection criteria they elaborate are the object of collective reflection and precise interventions of teachers”.

The Internet, among other things, is configured as a large storage space. There is often the idea that everything is “at hand” and available to use. While it is true that what is there can be used, it should not be lost sight of the fact that each available material has one or more authors who must be cited or consulted in order to use their materials. To facilitate the task, there are open and/or free licenses for cultural, scientific and educational works (texts, images, audios, videos, etc.). Such licenses do not disable copyright, they simply leave use permissions predefined.

Social impact

Internet users in 2016 as a percentage of a country's population
Internet users in 2016 as a percentage of a country’s population

The Internet has a profound impact on the world of work, leisure and knowledge worldwide. Thanks to the web, millions of people have easy and immediate access to an extensive and diverse amount of information online. This new means of communication managed to break down physical barriers between remote regions, although, however, language remains a major difficulty. Although at first it was born as a means of unilateral communication aimed at the masses, its evolution in the so-called Web 2.0 allowed the participation of the now senders-receivers, thus creating varied and large public squares as meeting points in the digital space.

Compared to traditional encyclopedias and libraries, the web has allowed for a sudden and extreme decentralization of information and data. Some companies and individuals have adopted the use of weblogs, which are largely used as updatable journals, already in decline after the advent of social platforms. The automation of databases and the possibility of converting any computer into a terminal to access them, has resulted in the digitization of various procedures, bank transactions or queries of any kind, saving administrative costs and user time. Some trade organizations encourage their staff to incorporate their areas of expertise into their sites, hoping they will impress visitors with expert knowledge and free information.

This has also allowed the creation of worldwide collaborative projects in the creation of free and open source software (FOSS), for example: the Free Software Foundation with its GNU tools and free content license, the Linux operating system kernel, the Mozilla Foundation with its Firefox web browser and its Thunderbird email reader, the Apache OpenOffice office suite and the Wikimedia Foundation itself.

The Internet spread globally, however, unevenly. It flourished in most households and businesses in rich countries, while disadvantaged countries and sectors boast low penetration and average internet speeds. The inequity of access to this new technology is known as the digital divide, which has an impact on fewer opportunities for knowledge, communication and transmission of culture. However, over the decades there has been a sustained growth in both the penetration and speed of the Internet, as well as in its volume of stored data and the total bandwidth used in the exchange of information per day, gradually implemented in all nations.


Online volunteering is the modality of volunteering that is carried out through the Internet. This form of remote volunteering increases the development capacity of organizations while providing a space for many people to participate in the development, something they would not otherwise enjoy. One of the key aspects of online volunteering is its power of inclusion. Since online volunteering involves no expense or travel, anyone from anywhere in the world can collaborate for peace and development.


Many use the Internet to download music, movies, and other work. There are sources that charge for their use and others free, using centralized and distributed servers, P2P technologies. Others use the network to access news and weather.

Instant messaging or chat and email are some of the most widely used services. On many occasions, the providers of these services provide their affiliates with additional services such as the creation of spaces and public profiles where Internet users have the possibility of placing photographs and personal comments on the network. It is currently speculated whether such communication systems encourage or restrict person-to-person contact between humans.

In more recent times, social portals such as YouTube, Twitter or Facebook, among others, have boomed, where users can have access to a wide variety of videos on virtually any topic.

Pornography accounts for much of the traffic on the Internet and is often a controversial aspect of the Internet because of the moral implications that accompany it. It often provides a significant source of advertising revenue for other sites. Many governments have tried unsuccessfully to place restrictions on the use of both industries on the Internet.

The multiplayer system also constitutes a good part of leisure on the Internet.

Effects of Internet on the brain

In 2008 the American technologist Nicholas Carr published an article in which he claimed that the Internet was eroding the human capacity for concentration and critical thinking, and even claimed that the Net would change the structure of the brain and the way people think. Experts from various fields began to conduct studies and reflect on the relationship between the Network and cognitive abilities. Some agreed with Carr, but others like Clive Thompson dismissed those arguments, saying that whenever a new technology emerged, the same debate occurred. These “techno-optimists” claim that the Net not only enhances brain agility but also allows learning more and faster, in short, making people smarter.

Effects on societies

There is an intense debate about the effect of the Internet on societies. On the one hand there are those who think that the Internet, by favoring the exchange of information, favors the development of citizen participation and democratization. This would be a motif of the U.S. Department of State’s Internet Freedom Agenda. This belief is supported by so-called cyberutopians, who believe that the Internet is itself emancipatory. On the other hand, others, such as Evgeny Morozov, think that the Internet facilitates mass surveillance, political repression and the spread of nationalist and extremist propaganda.

Source of information

In 2009, a study conducted in the United States indicated that 56% of the 3,030 American adults interviewed in an online survey said that if they had to choose a single source of information, they would choose the Internet, while 21% would prefer television and both newspapers and radio would be the choice of 10% of respondents. This study positions digital media in a privileged position in terms of the search for information and reflects an increase in credibility in these media.


With the emergence of high-speed connections available to the public, the Internet has significantly altered the way some people work, being able to do so from their respective homes. The Internet has allowed these people greater flexibility in terms of schedules and location, unlike the traditional working day, which usually occupies the morning and part of the afternoon, and in which employees travel to the workplace.

An accounting expert based in one country can review the books of a company in another country, on a server located in a third country that is maintained remotely by specialists in a room.

The Internet and especially blogs have given workers a forum in which to express their opinions about their jobs, bosses and colleagues, creating a massive amount of information and data about work that is currently being collected by the Harvard Bar Association.

The Internet has driven the phenomenon of Globalization and together with the so-called dematerialization of the economy has led to the birth of a New Economy characterized by the use of the network in all processes of increasing the value of the company.


The Internet has become the most easily measurable and fastest-growing medium in history, and it is a medium by which many people connect almost instantaneously. There are currently many companies that make money from Internet advertising. In addition, there are many advantages that interactive advertising offers to both the user and advertisers.


It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to establish centralized, global control of the Internet. Some governments, of nations such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, North Korea and the People’s Republic of China, restrict people from their countries from viewing certain Internet content, political and religious, considered contrary to their criteria. Censorship is sometimes done through government-controlled filters, supported by laws or cultural reasons, punishing the spread of this content. However, many Internet users can circumvent these filters, as most Internet content is available worldwide, no matter where you are, as long as you have the necessary skill and technical means.

Another possibility, as in the case of China, is that this type of measure is combined with the self-censorship of the Internet service providers themselves, the companies equivalent to Telefónicas (Internet service providers), in order to adjust to the demands of the government of the receiving country.

However, some search engines such as Google have taken the decision to threaten the government of China with the withdrawal of its services in that country if Internet censorship is not abolished. Although he has subsequently denied that he will take such measures.

To bypass any kind of censorship or coercion in the use of the Internet, multiple technologies and tools have been developed. Among them, it is worth mentioning on the one hand the techniques and cryptological tools and on the other hand the technologies framed in the so-called Darknet. The Darknet is a collection of networks and technologies that pursue the achievement of total anonymity of the communicators, thus creating a zone of total freedom. Although currently it is not usually considered that they achieve total anonymity, however, they do achieve a substantial improvement in the privacy of users. These types of networks have been used intensively, for example, in the events of the Arab Spring and throughout the WikiLeaks network for the publication of confidential information. The technologies of the Darknet are in the process of refining and improving their performance.

To combat Internet censorship, RSF decided to unblock nine censored news websites in eleven countries, i.e. allowing access from the territory where they were banned:, blocked in Russia; Fregananews, censored in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan; The Tibet Post and Mingjing News, banned in China; Dan Lam Bao, stranded in Vietnam; Hablemos Press, censored in Cuba; Gooya News, blocked in Iran; the Gulf Center for Human Rights, censored in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain Mirror, banned in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Internet in works of fiction

The Internet often appears in works of fiction. It can be one more element of the plot, something that is used regularly as it is done in real life.

There are also works where the Internet is presented as an evil medium that allows hackers to sow chaos and alter records, as for example in the films The Network (1995) and Live Free or Die Hard (2007), among others. There are other works where it appears as a great opportunity for freedom of expression, for example, in the film FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions (2004).

Disinhibiting effect of the Internet

The ease with which people express themselves on social networks was described by psychologist John Suler, who specializes in cybercrime, in his work The Online Disinhibition Effect. This author explains that the form of behavior is not the same in social networks as when you are face to face, which is due to the disinhibiting effect of cyberspace. The absence of physical contact, as well as the non-perception of gestures and sensations, makes the way of relating very different. John Suler explains this phenomenon by 6 factors:

  • Dissociation by anonymity. Virtual profiles make it possible to hide people’s true identity.
  • Invisibility of cyberspace. There is no physical contact in cyberspace.
  • Asynchrony of virtual communication.
  • Solipsism. The brain creates an image of the person by the characteristics that it transmits, which often do not correspond to the real ones.
  • Imaginative dissociation. The justification of behaviors through networks is easier because there is not as much awareness about them.
  • Minimization of the state of authority. The fear of being rejected because opinions are not shared by others decreases.

Behavioral changes in networks are directly related to the increase in the number of crimes committed over the Internet. The feeling of security and privacy provided by this space makes these crimes one of the most committed in Spain. According to statistics published by the Ministry of the Interior, in 2011 there were 21,075 crimes through the networks, going to 88,859 in 2019, which represents a very significant increase.

Twitter is one of the social networks in which there is greater freedom of expression. This freedom causes many Internet users to publish content described as inappropriate that, sometimes, would be included within hate crimes. The misuse of networks can lead to the creation of a parallel identity or to crimes related to sexting, phishing, libel and slander or cyberbullying. There is a decrease in responsibility when this type of act is committed, and the truth is that most crimes committed through networks are not condemned, since the Internet is a space in which it is very difficult to pursue the offender.

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