Verizon praises itself for aiding first responders after it throttled their data

After a swift backlash, Verizon has removed a video highlighting the "first responders who rely on us" from YouTube.

Marrian Zhou Staff Reporter
Marrian Zhou is a Beijing-born Californian living in New York City. She joined CNET as a staff reporter upon graduation from Columbia Journalism School. When Marrian is not reporting, she is probably binge watching, playing saxophone or eating hot pot.
Marrian Zhou
2 min read

Verizon pulled a video from YouTube after criticism. 

Screenshot by Marrian Zhou/CNET

A new Verizon ad that touts the company's help for firefighters hasn't played well.

On Monday, the carrier giant released a video on YouTube about helping first responders. It then quickly removed the video from the social network after it became the target of criticism on Reddit, where users pointed out that Verizon had throttled firefighters' mobile data during the Mendocino Complex fire in California a few months earlier.

One user wrote: "'false advertising' -- they didn't list the 'stop saving lives to buy more data cause you ran out' feature I hear they carry." 

Another Redditor noted the growing number of dislikes the video was getting on YouTube and wondered if Verizon had noticed.

"I wonder how many till Verizon says "hey guys this isn't getting a good response, maybe we should take it down," the Redditor wrote.

The video can still be seen on Verizon's website, where it's introduced by two Verizon representatives.

"The spot is available online here and it's still running on TV," a Verizon spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "I can say that soon after the Santa Clara incident, we delivered new plan terms for public safety to the various national and state agencies that approve state/local contracts. Under the new plan, all frontline first responders nationwide have access to plans with unlimited data and no speed restrictions."

Verizon was widely criticized for throttling data for firefighters in California. In August, the company said it had lifted all speed caps for first responders on the West Coast battling wildfires, as well as for emergency workers in Hawaii fighting Hurricane Lane.

First published Oct. 9, 3:16 p.m. PT.
Update, Oct. 10 at 1:09 p.m.:
Adds Verizon statement.