Net neutrality backers fight back

Thousands of companies and organizations, including Google, Facebook and Reddit, want you to support the push for keeping the rules that govern the open internet.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
8 min read
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Fight for the Future, a nonprofit activist group helping organize the protest to protect net neutrality, has provided this pop-up to websites to display on "The Day of Action."

Fight for the Future

Your internet experience may look a little different today.

That's because Netflix, OkCupid, Airbnb, Reddit and dozens of other popular websites are greeting visitors on Wednesday with messages urging them to protect the free and open internet.

It's all part of a massive campaign called the "Day of Action," an online protest that's meant to stir up grassroots support for the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality regulations. The rules, which were passed in 2015 by a Democrat-controlled FCC, were crafted to prevent broadband companies from favoring their own content over competitors' services or charging fees to deliver faster service.

The regulations have been controversial because the FCC changed the classification of broadband so that it's treated like a public utility. Broadband and wireless companies say the regulations impose on the internet an outdated law designed for the old telephone network and that they hamper investment in their networks.

In May, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai introduced a proposal that would return broadband to its previous classification and wipe away the existing rules. Activists and online companies say doing this would give broadband and wireless companies too much control over the internet.

Companies participating in the online protest want to educate the public about the issue and get people to speak out and urge the FCC to keep the rules in place. The agency is taking comments from the public on the proposal.

"We know we don't have the votes on the FCC right now to protect the rules," said Gigi Sohn, a former aide to the previous FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler, who championed the 2015 rules. "But there is a small chance that if we get enough public opinion out there that we could stop the FCC from doing what it wants to do."

Senator Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii, said in an interview with CNET that it's crucial for the American public to be heard on this issue.

"Millions of people feel strongly about protecting the free and open internet," he said.

The Day of Action isn't the first online protest to show support for net neutrality. Many of the same groups participated in a protest in 2014, which they called Internet Slow Down Day. Many websites showed a spinning "loading" icon to demonstrate what users might experience if broadband providers were able to slow customers' connections or allow for paid priority services.  

So what are some companies on the net doing to mark this day? Here's a sampling.


The company that developed the Firefox browser has been one of the most outspoken supporters of the FCC's rules. Over the past few months, Mozilla has collected more than 42,000 comments from Americans in defense of net neutrality. 

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Mozilla has collected thousands of comments in support of the FCC's net neutrality rules. And it is sharing these messages with users of its Firefox internet browser. 


The company is sharing these messages with its Firefox users by displaying them whenever a user opens a new window. It's also showing this statement and providing a link through which people can submit comments to the FCC: "Today is the Internet Wide Day of Net Neutrality. You can help by telling the FCC why net neutrality should be protected."  

In addition, it released a new podcast devoted to exploring the effects of net neutrality and a video interview with Senator Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat who's long championed net neutrality and free speech issues.

Internet Association

The online industry's lobbying group, which counts companies including Amazon, Microsoft and Google as members, has prepared a series of GIFs to show why protecting net neutrality is important. One shows a clip of a character from "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" doing a backflip with the words: "Do you like the internet? Great, we do too! A lot." The site also offers a link to the FCC comment page, so that people can file comments in the proceeding.


The social media platform has created a "spinning wheel of death" emoji to show what the web might look like without net neutrality. It's also promoting conversations about the topic.


The popular game-streaming service is showing a banner with a link to the Internet Association's page and asking people to submit comments to the FCC.


The streaming video site was an outspoken supporter of net neutrality back in 2014 when the current rules were being drafted, but it's largely stood on the sidelines as the issue has popped up again. 


Netflix is directing users to the Internet Association's site to learn more about net neutrality and to file comments in support of the FCC's existing rules. 


But the company says it still supports net neutrality. Today, it's showing its nearly 100 million subscribers a message at the top of its home page asking them to support the net neutrality rules. The message provides a link to the Internet Association's Day of Action site, which then directs people to the FCC's page to file comments.


The online dating website is displaying a message asking people to join in the fight to protect the open internet, and it's directing people to the Battle for the Net website to file comments with the FCC to support the rules.

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OkCupid shows this image when users log in to educate them about net neutrality and to encourage them to file comments with the FCC to protect existing regulation. 


As an OkCupid member and Internet user, you should be in control what you see and do online — not big cable companies. Join us on this Internet-Wide Day of Action to stop the FCC from destroying net neutrality.

College Humor

The site that posts funny videos has put together a short video explaining why it's important to protect net neutrality. The site warns that without these regulations, "The internet will become like cable TV where you can only get what's been approved by old rich guys."

It's directing users to go to the Electronic Frontier Foundation's DearFCC.org  page to get more information and to file comments to the FCC.


The video-streaming site has launched an explainer video and blog to educate people on why preserving net neutrality will help keep the internet "free and weird."


The online search giant published a blog post explaining why net neutrality is important and it's directing people to the Internet Association's website for more information and to file comments.


The house/apartment-sharing service has displayed a message on its homepage and is providing a link to a blog explaining what net neutrality is and why people should care. It's then offering a comment template with a prewritten comment in support of the current rules. Users can just fill in their names, hit a button and submit the comment.

Here's an excerpt of the statement: "Preserving strong, enforceable net neutrality rules is fundamental to a free and open internet, and I urge you to protect the existing net neutrality rules to ensure the internet continues to be accessible for all equally."


On its homepage, the online community has altered its logo to make it look pixelated and loading slowly and pops up a box that types this message:

The internet's less fun when your favorite sites load slowly, isn't it? Whether you're here for news, AMAs, or some good old-fashioned cats in business attire, the internet's at its best when you—not internet service providers—decide what you see online. Today, u/kn0thing and I are calling on you to be the heroes we need. Please go to battleforthenet.com and tell the FCC that you support the open internet.



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Amazon is directing customers to the Internet Association's site to learn more about net neutrality and how they can protect the FCC's rules. 


The online retail giant is displaying a message on the right side of the page encouraging users to find out more about net neutrality. The message simply reads: "Net Neutrality? Learn More." And it offers a link to the Internet Association's website. 


The social networking site's founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, posted a message on his Facebook page explaining what net neutrality is and why people should care. He said Facebook supports the current FCC rules for keeping the internet open and free from interference from internet service providers. He said the company is also open to working with Congress to create a law to protect net neutrality. His message directs people to find out more about the issue on the Internet Association's website where they can file comments directly to the FCC. 

In her own post, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg reiterated the company's support of the FCC's and its intent to "work with members of Congress and anyone else willing to keep the internet open." 


The American Civil Liberties Union, which defends free speech, has changed its Facebook and Twitter logos to ones that say "Save Net Neutrality." And it's included a GIF on its home page that that simulates the effect of slowing down the website, a symbolic nod to what abolishing net neutrality would mean for the internet. The ACLU is also encouraging its more than 3 million supporters to submit comments to the FCC against the dismantling the regulation.

"Internet service providers shouldn't be allowed to mess with the data that we pay them to transport," Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst at the ACLU, said in a statement. "This is a free speech issue. With the power to restrict access and speeds for websites and content of their choosing, corporations like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T will have the power to distort the flow of data and the marketplace of ideas online."


The online crowd fundraising site blocked out its home page with a message asking people to "Defend Net Neutrality." The message urged users to "protect creativity, innovation, and free speech in the digital age. Keep the internet open for everyone." And then it provided a button to "take action" and provided a page where people could look up their Congressional representatives. Kickstarter has even provided a letter that people can digitally sign and send to their lawmakers.  


The e-commerce site posted a message at the top of its homepage asking users to "Join our effort to keep the internet fast and fair." It also offered a button on the page that said "Tell Congress and the FCC you're with us," which when clicked takes uses to the Battle for the Net page where they can send a pre-written letter of support to the FCC and Congress. 


Etsy offered up this message to users to encourage them to support the FCC's net neutrality rules. 


FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn 

Clyburn is currently the only Democrat on the FCC Commissioner and supports the FCC's rules. She issued a statement today supporting the protest: "Today I stand with those who believe that a free and open internet is a foundational principle of our democracy," she said in her statement. "Its benefits can be felt across our economy and around the globe."

DC protest

People gathered in Washington, DC at the Capitol to let lawmakers know they want the FCC to keep the existing FCC rules as they are. 


Protesters gathered in front of the US Capitol to tell lawmakers they want them to protect net neutrality regulation. 

Demand Progress

Telecom and Cable 

AT&T said in a blog post Tuesday that it's joining the protest, because it supports the the principles of net neutrality. But the company said it still opposes the legal framework the FCC has adopted. It's asking Congress to take action to make net neutrality rules law. Verizon also released a statement today saying it also supports Congress taking action. AT&T sued the the FCC over the 2015 rules and Verizon sued the FCC over rules the agency adopted in 2010. Comcast has also put out a similar statement in a blog expressing its support for the principles of a free and open internet, but stating it doesn't agree with the current classification of broadband.  

This story was originally published at 8:00 a.m PT and is being updated throughout the day with information from companies and organizations about how they're supporting the "Day of Action" to protect the FCC's existing net neutrality rules. 

Watch this: FCC chair defends his net neutrality rollback

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