The Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal net neutrality yesterday in a 3-2 vote, giving internet service providers the ability to monetize or block content online. YouTubers are now using their platform to protest the decision.
Prominent gaming critic Jim Sterling uploaded a video to YouTube on Friday criticizing the vote. About 26 seconds into the video, it cuts off, and the remainder of the video plays with an obnoxious buffering symbol. It can be seen in the GIF below.
Before Sterling cuts himself off, he offers a brief synopsis on what the repeal means for average internet users who are trying to watch videos or play online games.
“Comcast and its scumbag ilk can piss on us with impunity,” Sterling says in the video. “While the FCC’s Ajit Pai continues to lie about how ‘we’re only rolling back changes to 2015,’ the rest of us have to worry about our connections being throttled, about being railroaded into paying for internet fast lanes, about companies deciding what video —”
That’s where the video cuts off. Commenters are applauding Sterling for his buffering tactic as a way to illustrate what could happen to people’s internet usage after the repeal.
Front Page Tech uploaded a similar video, which shows just how difficult browsing YouTube could become if net neutrality is repealed. Unlike Sterling’s, Front Page Tech’s buffer doesn’t kick in until the end of the lengthy video. Front Page Tech waits until the video has hit a crucial moment before introducing the buffering symbol, however, adding an end title card that suggests that the viewer has used up all of their free minutes on the site.
This isn’t the first time that YouTubers have used buffering or “packaged deals” to demonstrate how net neutrality will affect users. Popular and controversial gaming personality Boogie2988 posted a video on Nov. 21 that ended with a joking title card that lists the prospective cost of what a YouTube package could look like. An operator’s voice alerts the viewer that their “free trial of YouTube is over,” and they’ll have to pay $19.99 a month to continue.
The point YouTubers are trying to make is that, as much as throttling and monetizing internet content will impact people who spend their time working online full-time, it will also affect general users. As we said in a previous report:
Between 2015 and 2016, the number of broadcasters streaming monthly on Twitch grew from 1.7 million broadcasters per month on average to 2.2 unique streamersin 2016. YouTube doesn’t disclose how many creators are uploading videos per month, or even per year, but notes that “the number of channels earning six figures per year on YouTube is up 50 percent year-over-year.” With each growing year, more people are relying on YouTube as their main form of income.
Other YouTubers, including jackscepticeye and Philip DeFranco, have also uploaded videos condemning the FCC’s vote. Just because the FCC voted to repeal net neutrality, however, doesn’t mean the open internet is dead forever. As The Verge reports, “Pro-neutrality groups are already preparing a legal challenge, arguing the order itself should be invalidated as illegal.”
Information about what’s next for net neutrality — and the fight to reenact it — can be read on The Verge.