I personally think we are living through the "Empire Strikes Back" period -- a period where the conventional powers (political think tanks, advertisers, ideological and state propagandists, etc.) have learned to attack the Internet using its own systems (social media, forums, memes, etc.) and the Internet hasn't yet learned how to defend itself. This is probably peaking now with "peak social" and the explosion of hip and effective social media based state and political propaganda. I don't know what "Return of the Jedi" will look like, but I think it's likely coming. Some of the problems that need to be solved are technical but many are just a matter of people learning how to mentally filter BS in the new Internet era.
My generation's despair was watching them being supplanted by the social media companies who provided platforms with a fraction of the capabilities and none of the user empowerment.
It's never too late to go back to federated architectures.
Conveniently forget about the indigenous population that hates you and can be co-opted by the special ops into the defenses take-down.
And, for talent recruitment purposes, the dear leader invites a known mind-hacker and terrorist pilot into his battlestation office with a view, sends the guards home early (because confidentiality) and offers the temptations that come with a weapon and concerns for friends and family.
Lesson: Malicious leaks in a quest for galactic domination may backfire, as may insider threats if you're not careful.
Need more Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning.
Edit addition: Lesson 2, don't double down on failed moonshoots
But I don't know if the Web - or the digital rights movement or Occupy or meme culture or whatever your personal fancy is - will ever be retaken. There's space for an underground now - which is good enough for me. Perhaps better than trying to fit all of mainstream society in. And maybe social networks can stay - as a kind of fly paper.
The only real resistance I can think is Tor, but it turns out that the cost of being able to buy psychedelics online is global child rape gangs and a nationwide Fentanyl problem. Not a great trade off, in my opinion.
I don't see any technological way out of this mess.
You have a myopic view of the internet. I don't use any social media. Unless you consider hn or Reddit that. And I run ad blocker. I spend most of my entertainment, educational, and social interaction budget on the internet. The internet is ducking amazing. I could never publish on tv. I could never consume what normal people published, unfiltered by FCC /network execs/advertisers.
The internet is not social media. Social media is "the masses", the mainstream. And regardless of platform those always suck, banal, lowest common denominator, and manipulated for profit or power.
Checkout of the mainstream, not the internet.
In another 10 years computers may be fast enough to make No Code actually viable at scale, which will enable entirely different types of people to start making things for the first time.
And even failing that, we now have muppets teaching 3-year-olds the basics of coding. Not everyone is going to know how to code in 20 years, but the percentage of new high school graduates who can make a webpage might be comparable to the percentage who can read.
The basic reason the tech industry is fucked up is that the FAANG companies have a monopoly on discovery right now. But that's not going to last forever.