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”
- “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.