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February 11, 2016

John Oliver’s Net Neutrality Trolls: Surprisingly Civil?

2014 Winter TCA Tour - Day 1

(Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Now that HBO’s John Oliver has managed to do the nearly impossible by making the net neutrality debate somewhat sexy, it’s time to assess the fruits of his impassioned call for the Internet’s “lovely trolls” to leave comments with the FCC about the proposal it advanced in its May 15 meeting.

Those commenters, who might’ve temporarily crashed the agency’s site, are still showing up in droves on the third day after Oliver’s rant aired on “Last Week Tonight.” But are these the same angry, tinfoil-hat-wearing types that Oliver sought to rally?

An extremely unscientific sampling of the more than 45,000 comments on Proceeding 14-28, Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet, reveals a relatively level-headed discourse. Those who have commented in a profane or bizarre way are not easy to find — except when the commenter uses a name like “Suck a cheetah’s d—,” in which case you get posts like this one. (Feel free to note examples, for better or worse, in a comment here; your Technocrat writers can’t possibly survey 45,000 items. Let’s crowdsource this thing.)

Of course, there’s no way to tell whether a commenter has showed up solely as a motivated, concerned citizen, or as an Oliver fan. But here are some samples that capture the general tenor of the commentary — the ID numbers are from the FCC’s system:

7521158118: The only people who will benefit from a two tiered system will be the rich and the powerful. Once again, the little guy loses out. Net neutrality must be preserved. Please don’t break our internet.

7521156429: Please protect us from these large greedy corporations that want to destroy Net neutrality! Internet and TV service fees are out of control also. You are failing to protect Americans.

7521158447: Our government agencies are supposed to protect citizens and also equality and freedom. Ending Net Neutrality will do nothing but give cable companies even greater advantage over consumers and small businesses that they already have. Cable companies have no interest in level playing fields. They already have minimal competition for their services. Their monopolies are out of control, and beyond higher fees, this would greatly hinder all of the advancements the internet has provided for everyone, large companies, small companies, education, and everyday people. Please do not give in to lobbying pressure of cable companies, and please listen to the American public. It is also a conflict of interest for the FCC to be directed by a former cable company lobbyist. I am disappointed that corporate lobbyists continue to get appointed to government posts.

7521155384: As the technological age continues to exponentially grow, to get rid of net neutrality would work against ALL forms of progress we have made thus far. Not to mention it will completely ostracize those who are trying to make a ripple in the pond in favor of big companies who have already established a name for themselves. The land of equal opportunities will not longer be equal and be offset even more so. There is absolutely no benefits coming out of this for the average citizen.

  • Buzz Allnight

    And the wolf in sheep’s clothing your advertiser TV freedom dot org.
    A sham outfit that wants a piece of cables outrageous profits but they want you to back them. They want to charge more for local commercial ridden TV channels to be rebroadcast on cable even though their signal is supposed to be free and supported by commercials.

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