Today’s Internet “Slowdown” Is Fake, but Your Impact Is Real

Why Netflix, Reddit and more are embracing the Spinning Wheel of Death for a day.

net neutrality

Whether you call it “The Spinning Wheel of Death,” “The Beach Ball of Doom” or “The Loading Pinwheel,” you’re likely to be faced with the this dreaded symbol more often than usual today. In a protest nicknamed The Battle for the Net, Internet action groups like Fight for the Future and over 40 websites including Netflix, Kickstarter and Reddit, will display loading icons as part of an Internet Slowdown Day to support net neutrality.

Similar in spirit to 2012’s massive SOPA strike, this one-day event is aimed at proposed revisions to FCC guidelines that could make it possible for Internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon to prioritize connection speeds for those that can afford the privilege — effectively relegating the rest of the Internet to the “slow lane.” The federal regulatory body’s existing “Open Internet” guidelines were struck down by U.S. Court of Appeals in January, in a suit filed by Verizon.

If a day full of lagging load times sounds unbelievably frustrating, don’t worry. This “slowdown” won’t actually impact your browsing speed at all. The loading icons seen today will be entirely symbolic.

“Too many of our subscribers have experienced such slowdowns because of purposeful congestion caused by Internet service providers,” Netflix spokeswoman Anne Marie Squeo told The Washington Post. “Our net neutrality efforts are focused on eliminating that experience, not extending it.”

Protest organizers are hoping this stunt will motivate Internet users will take notice and take action ahead of the Sept. 15th deadline to submit comments to the FCC, which has already received over a million comments since opening the issue for public feedback in April.

According to PRNewser, about 99 percent of these comments are already in favor of net neutrality. However, a groundswell of public opinion has been known to motivate the FCC in the past (a certain Janet Jackson Super Bowl performance famously garnered 1.4 million complaints to the FCC). So if net neutrality is important to you, now is the time to speak up.

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