It always seemed like a curious thing to me. Does the word “internet” need to be capitalized? I’d seen it printed that way many times over the years. It sorta made sense. If you think of “the internet” as a singularly-defined, proper place, then it deserves the same type of grammatical treatment as California or Japan. And while it may seem that the world has just one internet, that really isn’t true. Some countries have government-run internets that can be closed off from the rest of the world. This means that there can technically be more than one internet. But there can only ever be one Ireland or one Botswana. That seems like as good a reason as any for the Associated Press (AP) to officially de-capitalize “internet” in its upcoming style guide.
And the AP isn’t stopping there. The organization has also decided it’ll be dropping the caps from the word “web” when referring to the World Wide Web (tho apparently, World Wide Web itself remains capitalized – this change only kicks in when the reference is shortened to just “web”).
We will lowercase internet effective June 1, when the 2016 Stylebook launches. #ACES2016 pic.twitter.com/vv53323GL6
— AP Stylebook (@APStylebook) April 2, 2016
As the AP describes it, the World Wide Web is a subset of the internet, like e-mail. And no one has ever capitalized e-mail.
Of course, the AP’s style guidelines are ultimately mere suggestions. No one will be kicked off the internet for referring to it as The Internet. Still, it’s nice to know that there’s something authoritative to point to in this matter.