John Oliver’s Rant On Net Neutrality Hurts The Industry, Shows Lack Of Common Sense

While some want to suggest that TV personality John Oliver brought a lot of exposure to the topic of net neutrality by doing a segment about it on his show last Sunday, in reality, all he did was make the industry take two steps back. In addition to getting many of the details on net neutrality wrong [something the LA Times did a good piece on when they say, “if only he’d gotten the facts right“], asking people to focus their “indiscriminate rage” on the FCC simply lacks common sense.

All John did was get people to clog the FCC’s comment system, which means it’s now even harder for the FCC to find comments that are detailed or offer any kind of real feedback and suggestions. He’s done a disservice to the industry and to companies and consumers that want a change by asking “trolls” to bombard the FCC. I spent many painful hours going through a few thousand submissions and so many of them are completely off-topic, vulgar, racist and useless.

These are the types of comments that many, many people sent in and there are a LOT that are far worse than these, with language and comments I can’t even publish:

  • “the people running the fcc should just die”
  • “no one in the FCC is sexy”
  • “my cable should not be turned off because I didn’t pay my bill on time”
  • “smoke some drugs and maybe you’ll understand better”
  • “i hope that no more violence is ever shown on television again!”
  • “corporate America needs to die!”
  • “i don’t like big brother”
  • “this is how skynet started to take over the world”
  • “the U.S. has too much wealth”
  • “I’m an American born citizen”
  • “the President is great friends with the CEO of Comcast”
  • “torrent!”
  • “the US is on a downward trend to second-rate status”
  • “Estonia and the Czech Republic beat us at internets”
  • “i should not have to pay so much for my DVR”

Not surprisingly, there is a lot of confusion of what net neutrality is even about. So many comments talk to things that have nothing to do with net neutrality at all, and quite a few people say that net neutrally is not broken and the FCC does not need to fix anything. Some think that net neutrality already exists, doesn’t exist, already went away, is going to go away or that the FCC gets paid by cable companies.

John Oliver did nothing to educate consumers, didn’t get the facts right, and played on people’s emotions, rather than their intelligence. When you ask “trolls” to focus their “indiscriminate rage” on the FCC website, nothing good comes of that. The quality of comments the FCC gets should be the focus, the volume of comments received should come after that. Not the other way around, which is all John Oliver accomplished.

  • Reading through most comments to the FCC can be a pain because for the reasons stated above, they offer no detail or rarely show a command of the policy issue leaving the FCC with not much substance to draw on to form public policy. Then we wonder why our “voices aren’t heard.”

    Our voices are not listened to because we fail to take a little time to properly educate ourselves on issues and go the cheap route of vitriol spouting.

  • AVonGauss

    I have to disagree, the “smoke some drugs and maybe you’ll understand better” seems like very good advice when reading some of those submitted suggestions.

  • John Chalos

    What facts did he get wrong?

  • John Chalos
  • Chris Panos

    Although you provide a link to debunk Oliver’s claims, you offer no elucidation on the topic yourself. Mostly, this article does nothing but attack Oliver’s position (only offering vague counterpoints) & complain about the quality of the solicited comments. Not enlightening & therefore not authoritative. Fail.

    • danrayburn

      He got a lot wrong. For starters, he said the ISPs want fast lanes. They don’t. Comcast and AT&T have said they will agree not to do any fast lanes with their proposed mergers. In fact, Comcast isn’t even allowed by law to do them today.

      He also said ISPs would shake down content providers, expect that offering something for free is a best effort. There is no guanrantee. By paying for the service, even a nomnial fee, you get SLAs. So his argument that free is better, is not accurate. Free is better for content owners, but worse for the consumer.

      His take on the Comcast and Netflix deal is not accurate as he uses it as an example of of cable operators creating a two-tiered Internet, except that the Comcast/Netflix deal includes NO traffic priorization. The press release between the two companies even specifically points that out. John wants to use that as an example of “net neutrality”, but it’s not.

      John played on people’s emotions, instead of educating them on the facts.

  • capella

    Nice article, professional response, *bookmarked*

  • beverins

    Watched the John Oliver piece and read the LA Times piece and now your opinion piece. Can’t say that Mr. Oliver got anything wrong, actually. Besides, it’s not Mr. Oliver’s fault if people who watch a comedian making fun of current events start trolling the FCC’s comment system. On top of that, it isn’t like FCC Chairman Wheeler’s mind isn’t already made up. The comments are just fluff, insightful or not, and that’s why people trolled the comments system – because they know that nothing will change no matter what they say.

  • IndiaNama

    The high volume of response, whatever the content, shows that this is something the Internet using public cares about, and that they are opposed to this policy proposal. It’s not incumbent on commenters to provide solutions.

  • UGADawg09

    Nice try. Enjoy your stay in prison.

  • Jezzer

    Posting internet comments isn’t “identity theft,” you twit.