Is the internet a failed state？ The popularity of this metaphor is growing， along with the dark web， cyber crime，trolling， fake news， ransomware， sabotage，scamming， spamming， viruses and spying.
The web's early promise of a non-commercial， virtual world where netizens could freely engage with one another across national boundaries and without traditional information gatekeepers now seems naive.
But the same technology that powers this dystopian stew of horrors—and Donald Trump's tweets—is a lifeline for many often marginalised groups of people. Here is why.
A plethora of services such as Skype allow even impoverished people worldwide to speak and video call without limits and at zero cost. And they do so. Skype has hundreds of millions of users. Most are unaware that international phone calls were once strictly for the rich.
In Africa， a soon-to-launch phone app，Ugogo， promises to open up a global maker-to-consumer marketplace for craftspeople in remote villages. Artists making products such as jewellery will not need a bank account or even to be literate.
What3Words， the UK phone app， helps people who do not have a street address to take advantage of internet shopping. In the 18 months， it has been adopted by post offices in five countries， including Mongolia， Djibouti and Ivory Coast.
Victims of child abuse form support groups and share information using Facebook and WhatsApp.
Connected products such as webcams help us keep an eye on older people. A UK invention， Three Rings， is a plug that informs loved ones when an older person makes their morning cup of tea， letting them know they are OK.
A couple， Jo and Ron Jowett， have set up a charity， LoveLightRomania for disadvantaged Roma children in Transylvania.“The project has only been possible because of the internet，” Mrs Jowett says. They plan to sell Roma-made products online， from tablecloths to dog kennels.
Steve O'Hear is a successful technology journalist reporting on start-ups for TechCrunch， the AOL-owned technology news website. He is severely disabled and in a powered wheelchair. Mr O'Hear told me:“Once I had a mouse and a keyboard I could be as good as others. Actually， the best.”
Reporting used to be about notebooks and wearing out shoe leather. Connecting with sources online allows him to “break stories， and not always stories that people want to be broken， [that are happening in]cities I've never even been to”， he says.
The internet will probably continue to have its badlands. But connected technologies will continue to deliver progress in all fields for people who need help. Virtual reality will enable non-profits to show graphically to a world audience what is happening in conflict and disaster zones. Drones will fly medicines to places without roads. Translation technology will ease language barriers. And people without access to doctors will use smartphones to consult medics remotely.
The future is rolling out as it should， despite bumps on the road.