Internet users don’t just value the immediacy and lightning-fast loading times of the world wide web — by 2014, they’ve come to expect it. In fact, about three-fourths of people surfing the web won’t even scroll past the first page of results for a search engine query.
So when websites like Kickstarter, Reddit, Tumblr, Netflix and more than 10,000 others announced they would all be observing something called Internet Slowdown Day on September 10, many people probably weren’t happy.
These sites didn’t decide to plague users with the “spinning wheel of death” that is a direct indicator of sluggish loading times for no reason. The collective slowdown was to raise awareness and protest against an FCC proposal for an “Open Internet” that would allow Internet service providers like Verizon and Comcast to charge websites to provide faster content delivery to Internet users.
It’s a proposal that would essentially kill net neutrality, as bigger corporations would easily be able to buy fast access, while start-ups and smaller businesses would be indefinitely stuck with slow-loading pages plagued with the spinning wheel.
During Internet Slowdown Day, the protesting websites encouraged users to follow links that would allow them to contact the FCC, their state senators, members of the House of Representatives — even the White House itself.
But now that the numbers are in, just how effective was Internet Slowdown Day at pushing the people to take action?
According to a September 11 Time article, one poll found that two-thirds of Americans say they don’t support the “Open Internet” guidelines proposed by the FCC.
And this, combined with the massive web-based push to take action on Internet Slowdown Day, resulted in the FCC’s website being overloaded with nearly 525,000 comments. According to a September 11 PC World article, Congress received more than 1.5 million emails regarding the FCC’s proposal, and 286,000 more people made phone calls to Congress or the White House.
All these comments, emails and phone calls were overwhelmingly made in opposition to the proposal. A survey of the FCC comments alone found that a paltry one percent of the comments voiced support for the proposed rule.
So say what you will about the Internet, but one thing’s clear — people don’t like it when you threaten to take it away.