Internet users spoke loudly, firmly, and in no uncertain terms on Wednesday in sending a message of overwhelming support for net neutrality protections during the Internet Slowdown campaign.
Tech companies, websites, public interest organizations and more than a million users joined forces to bring the message of net neutrality forward by posting icons and links on their sites symbolically representing a slow-loading Internet, and by directing those clicking on the links to messages to Congress, the White House and the Federal Communications Commission.
“The numbers tell the story: People everywhere are using the Internet to save the Internet from phone and cable companies,” said Evan Greer, director of Fight for the Future. “We’ve shown that the best way to fight these powerful special interests in Washington is through mass action by people from outside Washington. The FCC and Congress can no longer dismiss the overwhelming consensus of public support for real Net Neutrality protections.”
Wednesday’s Internet Slowdown action generated just over 300,000 calls and nearly 2.2 million emails to Congress by Thursday afternoon. Facebook shares of the spinning “loading” icon topped 1.1 million. In addition, 722,364 filed comments Wednesday at the Federal Communications Commission, bringing the total number of comments since March 1 to 7.7 million.
According to a release provided by Fight for the Future, the volume of comments on Wednesday overwhelmed the FCC’s servers during the course of the day. Fight for the Future said it is in contact with the FCC’s tech team and is working out a solution to ensure that every comment is filed properly.
More than 10,000 websites — including industry giants such as Google and Netflix — had an Internet Slowdown presence on their sites. Blogging/photo platform Tumblr posted a series of spinning wheels on their site, and drove 70,000 calls to Congress before 4 p.m. on Wednesday, according to Fight for the Future. The wide range of participants in the action included Kickstarter, Upworthy, Foursquare, Meetup, Cheezburger, Grooveshark, and BoingBoing.
Online craft sales leader Etsy also provided an unequivocal message to their 30 million members on their front page, providing a space where those visiting the site could fill in a form and have the site call Congress on their behalf.
Earlier this month, Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson wrote an opinion piece for Wired.com regarding net neutrality and Wednesday’s mass action, where he stated that net neutrality is vital to the survival of his company. “This is an all-hands-on-deck moment for the business world, because the future of the Internet is the future of American business,” he wrote.
David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress, said that Wednesday’s action was the biggest day of online activism “since the Internet Blackout of 2012, when people rejected SOPA and PIPA copyright bills. As the FCC decision on net neutrality approaches, Internet users will continue to speak out in numbers and with a message that will be impossible to ignore.”
That sentiment was echoed by another leader in the effort, when the Free Press Action Fund president Craig Aaron said that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has no choice but to heed the call.
“[Wheeler] must now listen to the public, abandon his pay-to-play plan, and pursue the best and only path to net neutrality protections — by reclassifying Internet service providers as common carriers,” Aaron said.
Fight for the Future plans an encore action on Monday, Sept. 15 — the final day to comment to the FCC on net neutrality — in the form of lunchtime rallies in New York City and Philadelphia to save net neutrality and fight the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger.