Net Neutrality and the Future of the Internet

Net neutrality has been a big issue in the news lately, and it is a topic I have always found very interesting. I really enjoyed the What Happens to #Ferguson Affects Ferguson: Net Neutrality Algorithmic Filtering and Ferguson reading. I knew that net neutrality was always an issue with large media companies like Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and in opposition of smaller companies like Facebook, Google, and Netflix.

So I was essentially surprised when this article stated that Facebook was doing its own filtering with its content when Ferguson occurred. I thought about it for a while, but it made sense. I knew Facebook already tracked our information. They want to track how their users utilize the site because it gives them a better idea of how to create a website ideal for their users.

But my problem with this is it makes me ask, “Why and how will this affect us in the future?” Is streamlining information this way a good idea for users online? If the internet was originally meant to be an infinite space for us to share information, filtering data essentially goes against this. This goes back to our original talk a few weeks ago about how personalizing data to what a particular user likes only reaffirms their beliefs and promotes close-mindedness. Despite the issue of net neutrality, it seems that it is still happening within companies like Facebook. Any website can streamline the type of information that can be shared on their websites. Ferguson is very controversial, and it makes you really question who gets to decide what we are allowed to share and see on our social media accounts. At the heart of it, the purpose of journalists is to get the news out the the public. But if online media is limiting the word from getting out, it may just be a stance against freedom of speech, in general.

3 Comments

  1. Thank you for posting this video , it really makes the issue of net neutrality accessible. I don’t think most people understood how much of a threat internet monopolies were. I think search results built from filter bubbles and algorithms that favor where the money is or our tendencies rather than the honest truth or full picture is extremely dangerous to our progress as a society.

  2. Love that you covered this. I’ve always had a difficult time understanding exactly what net neutrality is and only recently did I finally read up about it. You’re definitely right in questioning the larger effect this will have on us in the future. I mentioned in class the other day that Facebook is starting to use an algorithm that favors those who pay to boost the reach of their posts. The internet, without net neutrality, seems to be heading in that direction. There’s already regulations in internet access via mobile web that affects the American population. The internet service providers here are no doubt capitalizing on our need for faster internet–my apartment, in fact, opted for the most expensive internet plan willingly for just that. Ironically, the internet at my house is cheaper and is still much faster than the wifi in my apartment… ugh. I’m rambling, but yeah, algorithms and capitalizing on us as products is dangerous territory that law makers should be looking into in the future.

  3. I totally agree. The original goal of the Internet was this ideal of a free form open space – where anyone could log and share ideas and resources. Even then, it wasn’t realistic – it was a military funded project with the inclusion of academics. Only academics at certain universities had access to the early Internet. It would seem that as the Internet evolved, this ideal would become clearer and clearer. But the issue of net neutrality proves a step backwards. It seems difficult to reconcile the United States’ free speech belief with what is going on with algorithmic filtering. If journalists wanted the truth from the public, it would make the most sense to turn to the Internet – a place where ideas are supposed to be shared with complete freedom. But if these ideas are blocked or filtered in anyway, how is this information getting out?

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