At midnight last night, some of the Internet’s most popular sites rallied together to observe “Internet Slowdown Day,” a global demonstration against the FCC’s consideration of a two-tiered Internet.
Until midnight tonight, sites like Netflix, Reddit, Imgur, WordPress, and yes, even PornHub, are sporting “spinning wheels of death” to symbolize the throttled bandwidth and longer load times associated with the proposed changes to net neutrality rules.
The only problem is that it isn’t really happening. There is no “slowdown.”
Here’s how the protest actually works: You simply read their message and click-through to resume normal speeds. Their rallying cry has been relegated to a pop-up ad.
The protest homepage, “Battle for the Net,” offers plenty of vitriol on the topic. It divides the oversimplified players into Team Cable (bad) and Team Internet (good) and urges anybody to change their Twitter avatar to a “loading” gif.
An effective protest would degrade or cut service altogether. Remember the Wikipedia blackout surrounding SOPA and PIPA in 2012? Remember how furious Twitter was back in March when True Detective crashed HBO GO? Now imagine Netflix and Reddit voluntarily going completely dark for an entire day. Imagine a majority chunk of the Internet all talking about one massively important topic instead of burning up all those idle hours watching The Office reruns.
The implications of losing net neutrality are huge and have been covered elsewhere with incredible (and sometimes hilarious) detail. If you’re reading VentureBeat, you’re not weighing the pros and cons. You know what’s at stake.
For such a watershed moment in the history of technology, these companies are settling for the electronic version of a flag lapel pin. Is net neutrality less important than SOPA/PIPA? Comparing the scale and severity of their respective demonstrations, it would appear that way.
Only five days remain until the period for public comment ends. If you believe that ISPs should treat all data equally, you absolutely should write to the FCC. Here is an easy way to do it.
The real issue, as always, is the corrupting influence of corporations in politics. CEOs, lobbyists, and public officials swap positions like musical chairs and further their own interests by sheer force of wallet.
Our unfettered access to information hangs in the balance. Netflix, Reddit, and the rest are satisfied with a cute pop-up ad on the matter. Are you?