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Decoding the Net Neutrality Debate
T
he debate over regulation of the
Internet may be one of the most
important of our day. Companies
that have invested billions in Internet
infrastructure contend that they need the
ability to manage their networks, prioritizing
some content over others to maintain service,
and charging for higher speeds.
Advocates of net neutrality see the Internet
as a utility, essential for individual learning,
working, civic participation and free
expression, as well as economic competition
and innovation – too important to have fast
lanes and slow lanes, with the fastest speeds
going to the highest bidder.
The debate intensified this year, when the
Federal Communications Commission invited
public comment on new proposed regulations
that stop short of the standards demanded
by net neutrality advocates. The call elicited
3.7 million comments, as well as a storm of
debate on Twitter and an avalanche of press
coverage. Subsequently, President Barack
Obama aligned with net neutrality supporters,
but the new rules remain to be written.
The technical complexity of Internet
regulation, and lack of direct historical
precedent, make it difficult to engage the
public in an informed debate and develop
regulations that will remain effective over
time. To tackle these challenges, both
policymakers and citizens need to better
understand public opinion, amid a torrent
of organized advocacy from both sides.
Knight Foundation partnered with Quid,
a data analytics firm, to separate the signal
from the noise.
THE NET NEUTRALITY DEBATE
1
The Federal Communications Commission regulates interstate and international
communications in the United States and its territories. Its issuance of an order in 2010 aimed
at preserving the open Internet precipitated a lawsuit by telecommunications company
Verizon. This year an appeals court vacated portions of the order, setting the stage for the FCC
to draft new rules and invite public comment.
Internet service providers and telecommunications companies provide the means—
the pipelines—that connect the Internet to homes and businesses. They invest in cable and
wireless networks that facilitate access and seek to recoup those costs and generate profits by
providing services to the public and other customers. They include companies such as AT&T,
Comcast, Verizon and Time Warner Cable.
The public uses connections provided by Internet service providers and telecommunications
to access the Internet, which provides global links to family, friends and services.
Startups rely on the open Internet for offering services to customers; pay-to-play regulations
that give preferential speed to established companies would inhibit competition.
Technology companies provide services and content to the public. They depend on Internet
service providers and telecommunications companies for delivery. They include companies
such as Amazon, Google and Netflix, which all deliver entertainment and media to the public.
KEY PLAYERS
2
Quid conducted the following
research on net neutrality:
• Media analysis of more than 35,000 news sources
and 300,000 blogs from January to July 2014.
• Twitter analysis of 120,000 tweets with
#NetNeutrality from July to August 2014 and from
#InternetSlowdownDay.
• Comment analysis of about 1 million public
filings to the Federal Communications
Commission.
• Lobbying analysis of approximately 2,500 filings
from 2009 to the second quarter of 2014 from the
U.S. Senate Lobbying Disclosure Act Database.
• Grant funding analysis of data for media access
and telecommunications companies.
ANALYZING THE DEBATE
Here are some of the broader questions the analysis raises:
• What is public sentiment related to net neutrality?
• How has net neutrality been covered in the media and discussed on
social media? What has influenced the conversation?
• How are organizations and companies attempting to influence the
net neutrality debate?
3
• Public opinion was overwhelmingly pro net neutrality. The main
narratives expressed on Twitter and FCC comments favored egalitarianism
and fairness: Don’t create an Internet of haves and have-nots; treat the
Internet like a utility, available for all. Net neutrality was also seen as essential
for start-ups to succeed against established companies.
• Telecom and cable companies chose lobbying over public debate.
They appeared to make only limited efforts to sway public opinion through
traditional or social media, instead pouring significant amounts of money
into lobbying. Their main narrative focused on the enormous bandwidth
used by content providers such as Netflix, who should not get a “free lunch”
from companies that have invested billions in building networks.
• Male and urban voices were overrepresented in the debate. As for the
media, it covered the debate as a tech story and as a political story; local
communities were not engaged.
KEY TAKEAWAYS
4
MEDIA COVERAGE OVER TIME
Spikes in news coverage coincide with announcements by the Federal Communications
Commission. Over time, more voices have joined the conversation.
Court issues ruling in
favor of Verizon,net
neutrality now in
question
Net neutrality news volume from Jan. 1 - July 18, 2014
FCC releases draft
rules, includes fast
lane Internet
FCC votes to move
forward with new
rules, public outcry
Tech companies
send letter to
FCC, supporting
net neutrality
FCC extends public
comment period
John Oliver
segment goes
viral, crashing
FCC website
Netfix CEO
Hastings calls for
net neutrality
FCC announces
plans to draft
new regulations
Unique
article
count
350
300
250
200
150
100
50
0
JAN
2014
FEB
2014
MAR
2014
APR
2014
MAY
2014
JUNE
2014
JULY
2014
5
Net neutrality was more likely to be covered in media outlets focused on
technology or politics, rather than financial or local news.
A TECH STORY, A POLITICAL
STORY, BUT NOT LOCAL NEWS
Net
neutrality
Random
news 41% 27% 17% 14%
26% 9% 39% 18%6%
Mainstream Local Financial Political Tech Other
News volume by source type, top 200 sources Jan-July 2014
Net neutrality vs. random sampling of news
Note: Other includes sports, entertainment, blogs, magazines, video games and other sources
6
The Players: Companies on both sides of the net neutrality debate were
prominently mentioned in news reports.
Netflix 3,839
Google 3,533
Comcast 3,455
Verizon 3,330
ATT 1,802
Facebook 1,730
Time Warner 1,421
Amazon 1,222
Twitter 1,204
Apple 687
Microsoft 569
Free Press 385
Hulu 353
Yahoo! 290
Reddit 245
	 0	 400	 800	 1200	 1600	 2000	 2400	 2800	 3200	 3600	 4000
Top 15 companies by count of mentions
Tech Telco Org
7
The Influencers: The leading voices cited in news reports favored net neutrality.
During the analysis period, President Obama was frequently criticized for his
absence from the debate. However, in November he weighed in with a strong
statement and video in support of net neutrality.
Barack Obama 1,104
Reed Hastings 504
John Oliver 372
Tim Wu 327
Al Franken 302
Jessica Rosenworcel 282
Mignon Clybum 246
Craig Aaron 238
Ajit Pai 233
Julius Ganachoswki 207
Edward Snowden 189
Michael Powell 169
Neelie Kroes 137
Mike Weinberg 136
Anna Eshoo 120
Top 15 people by count of mentions*
Political
Influencer
Corporate
FCC
*Tom Wheeler is omitted as he is present in ~3,500 articles surrounding net neutrality 8
a
Demographics overview: The readership of media outlets covering the
net neutrality debate skews to a wealthier, male audience, with no age bias.
AGE
Demographics of net neutrality news, relative to random sample
INCOME
GENDER
FEMALE MALE
*Demographic data obtained from a random week of news from July 12 to July 18, 2014
9
A central narrative during the period analyzed was that net neutrality stimulates innovation,
helping startups compete against established companies. @Kickstarter, for example, tweeted
to its 868,240 followers that “When we launched Kickstarter we didn’t need to negotiate a deal
for access to the Internet fast lane. We just plugged in. #NetNeutrality”
Advocates of net neutrality were dominant on Twitter.
While some shared news and education stories on
net neutrality, significantly more tweets analyzed led
to advocacy sites, which generally offered templates
to submit comments to the FCC.
Women were again underrepresented in the debate.
Twitter users from metro Boston, Los Angeles, New York,
San Francisco and Washington, D.C., were overrepresented
in the conversation.
Based on an analysis of tweets from July to August 2014.
TWITTER NARRATIVES
10
Retweets: Top retweets relate to calls to action, with some
commentary and education interspersed
Top tweets by retweet count			
Cable’s trying to end #netneutrality  break the internet for profit.
36 hours left to stop em http://t.co/YM ... http://t.co/53....
Last chance to save #NetNeutrality http://t.co/dj....
#cablecompanyfuckery /PLS RT! PLS RT! http://t.co/bM...
Your future without #NetNeutrality: http://t.co/R...http://t.co/MV...
A lot more people would become passionate about Net Neutrality
if we renamed i Operation Porn Freedom
Net neutrality explained: http://t.co/o...
US Web Companies Press Demands for Net Neutrality With FCC -
#TechTongue #Tech #Mobile http://t.co/b...
Why the FCC is ditching net neutrality: http://t.co/bM...
http://t.co/W...
FCC Net Neutrality deadline extended to Friday http://t.co/P...
http://t.co/TU...
User		
	
Tim Berners-Lee
Cory Doctorow
BitTorrent, Inc.
Kumail Nanjani
George Takei
Tech Tongue
Mother Jones
Cory Doctorow
RT		
	
6,165
2,711
2,540
1,963
1,429
1,357
1,286
1,238
Favorites		
	
1,799
608
2,026
2,001
1,190
21
363
501
Note: Tweets with at least 1,000 retweets in July and August 2014.
11
Non-metro
Non-metro
Twitter geography: The top metro areas are
driving much of the conversation on Twitter
#NetNeutrality Twitter network
Metro
Metro
General Twitter network
Gender: Women
tweeted less than men
on net neutrality.
Actual
1
Based on sample of 20,000 tweets from July 9, 2014 – Aug. 20, 2014.
2
Top metros are defined as the New York, Boston, DC, LA and San Francisco
areas, and location is based on user input when signing up for Twitter.
Expected
50%
50%
69%
31%
#netneutrality1
63% 38%
46% 54%
12
Commenters on the Federal Communications Commission site
overwhelmingly favored net neutrality, according to Quid’s sentiment analysis
of 1.1 million of the the 3.7 million comments submitted. Many individuals
took the time to write — unique comments, as opposed to form emails or
advocacy templates — accounted for 40 percent of those analyzed, much
higher than the typical 10 to 20 percent.
The largest clusters of comments had the following themes:
• There is strong legal ground for reclassification of Internet service providers
as Title II common carriers
• The FCC should reject the proposed fast and slow lanes on the Internet
• Internet service providers already have monopolistic power
There were anti-net neutrality responses as well, but the only one common
enough to register was from a template.
FCC COMMENTS ANALYSIS
13
THEMES OF PUBLIC COMMENTS
Individual comments were overwhelmingly pro-net neutrality and quite diverse, though the idea
that the Internet should be reclassified as a common carrier for regulatory purposes was central.
Based on Quid’s analysis of 1.1 million comments submitted to the FCC. Each node represents a group of similar, unique comments.
Comments from templates have been omitted.
Unfair to charge for
preferential
treatment (2%)
FCC should ban
paid priortization
(4%)
Strong legal
ground for Title II
reclassification (14%)
FCC should schedule
public hearings
(3%)
Unfair for ISPs toextort
payments from companies/
entrepreneurs
(3%)
Internet as
public utility
(2%)
Internet is like free
speech – a cornerstone
of modern life
(3%)
FCC should reject
the proposed fast
and slow lanes
(10%)
Concerns over the
pay-to-play Internet
(3%)
Reclassify broadband
Internet or there will
be fast lanes and slow
dirt roads (3%)
Profane
comments
targeting the
FCC (7%)
FCC rule
changes will
benefit larger
corporations
(4%)
FCC unique comments, colored by topic
ISPs already have
monopolistic
power (7%)
Concerns for small
business and individual
content sites
(1%)
14
TOP PARTICIPATION RATES BY STATE
Many of the unique comments came from Washington, D.C., which was proportionally overrepresented based on
its population. The Southeastern United States, however, was underrepresented.
Comments count based on sample of ~300,000 comments. State of comments based
on user input address. Expected population based on 2013 projected Census data.
15
Large Internet service providers, such as Verizon, Comcast and ATT have largely
avoided the public debate, instead seeking influence through lobbying, spending more
than $238 million on filings that mentioned the term “net neutrality” at least once,
according to the Quid analysis.
Advocacy groups, particularly pro net neutrality groups, concentrated their outreach
through Twitter, using impassioned language to call people to action. These groups have
sought to encourage people to submit FCC comments, often even providing templates
that break down into three areas:
• Protect the diversity of the Internet: 24 percent (of the templates submitted)
• Schedule public hearings before making a decision: 14 percent
• Reclassify Internet service provides to allow more regulation by the FCC: 14 percent
The only significant anti-regulation template (4 percent) advocated not reclassifying ISPs.
Netflix also has been one of the leading advocates for net neutrality, with its CEO
Reed Hastings being a vocal supporter. It has had an effect on the public conversation,
with 5 percent of media about net neutrality surfacing around Hastings’ criticism of
Comcast and Verizon. The ISPs have responded, saying Netflix shouldn’t expect anything
for free, but that is the rare representation of Internet service providers attempting to sway
public opinion in the media.
INFLUENCING THE DEBATE
16
Influence strategy			
Comcast focused on lobbying, but has recently pushed through
corporate announcements and advertisements to promote their
own open internet philosophy
The NCTA is the face of the telecom companies, and has
promoted both Google  Twitter ads to push their interests
Verizon has focused entirely on lobbying and has made few
announcements or public efforts to influence the conversation,
except for a few quotes from spokesmen.
Netflix has used CEO Reed Hastings to prominently argue for
net neutrality while criticizing ISPs.
Netflix has made streaming deals with all major ISPs for direct
access to their networks.
Google has largely remained in the shadows of the conversation
besides signing on with 100 tech companies in support of net
neutrality.
Recently, they launched the ambiguous “Take Action”
showcasing the need for a free and open Internet.
Type		
Telcos
Tech Cos
Example
Corporation
Comcast
National Cable
and Tele-
communications
Association
Verizon
Netflix
Google
Lobbying $s	
$83M
$12M
$100M
$0M
$53M
Corporate strategies: In lieu of trying to sway public opinion, corporations are largely
focusing their efforts on lobbying.
17
Pro-Internet service provider dollars dwarf spending for both pro-net
neutrality lobbying and grants. Lobbying spending peaked in 2010 and 2011.
The FCC issued its open Internet order in 2010.
Note: Against - Recording Industry Association of America, ATT, Comcast, National Cable and Telecommunications Association, Verizon,
Writers Guild, National Music Publishers, Time Warner, BroadcastMusic, Hughes Network Systems, Frontier Communications, Viacom,
Tekelec, Charter.
Pro – Expedia, Level 3, Dish, Microsoft, Google, AOL
2009		 2010		 2011	 2012		 2013
Lobbyist dollars, top 20 clients over time (millions)
2009-2013
$90
$80
$70
$60
$50
$40
$30
$20
$10
$0
Net-neutrality specific grants
Pro-ISP lobbying
Pro-net neutrality lobbying
18
Lobbying spending: Telecommunications company focus on lobbying to push their
interests. Some technology companies, such as Google are becoming more active.
Verizon
Comcast
ATT
Google
Recording Ind Assn of America
NCTA
Viacom
Time Warner
Charter Communications
Expedia, Inc.
National Music Publishers Assn.
Broadcast Music, Inc.
Writers Guild of America
Microsoft
Level 3 Communications
AOL Inc.
Dish Network
Hughes Network Systems
Frontier Communications
Tekelec
Pro net neutrality Against regulation
$		 $20		 $40		 $60	 $80		 $100		 $120
													 M
Lobbying spending on filings with at least one ’net neutrality’ issue
Q1 2009 - Q2 2014
19
Top advocacy organizations: Top advocacy groups have a significant and active
presence on Twitter and created FCC templates to push their interests.
Website
language		
“Pay-to-play: Internet stifles innovation.
These practices pose a dire threat to the engine
of innovation.
The Internet thrives because it is an open and
free marketplace of ideas.
Big Telecom will create a “pay-to-play” system
that will unfairly favor large corporate websites.
Battle for the Net: Team Cable vs. Team Internet
If anything is going to slow down the Internet,
it’s Title II, the mess of outdated and heavy-
handed rules that have been coflated with net
neutrality.
Organization	
Number of
followers
232,000
165,000
50,800
8,671
Number of
tweets*
	
20
0
238
54
Count of
templates
	
84,438
50,844
11,800
N/A**
Pro/Anti
regulation
	
Pro
Pro
Pro
Anti
*Number of tweets from Aug. 18 to Sept. 17, 2014 containing #netneutrality, net neutrality, #openinternet or Open Internet
**TechFreedom’s template was launched after the 1.1M comments were collected
20
Quid’s analysis unveils the prevailing narratives and influencers shaping the net
neutrality debate. It raises several provocative questions about the future of the open
Internet and policy decisions:
• The public voice that has participated in the conversation has overwhelmingly
supported net neutrality. How will that affect the final decisions made by the Federal
Communications Commission and political leaders?
• The net neutrality debate has been dominated by men and a handful of major
metropolitan areas. Since the voices of women and much of the country have not
been equally represented, how will this affect the conversation and the policies that
emerge? Should efforts be made to bring more voices into the conversation?
• What impact will lobbying have on the future of the open Internet, especially given
that more money is devoted to lobbying against net neutrality?
Perhaps most important, we as a democratic society must consider how rules and
regulations either protect or restrict our freedoms. At Knight Foundation, we believe that
democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. What are
the actions that get us closer to that ideal?
KEY QUESTIONS
21
Quid’s analysis is part of Knight Foundation’s commitment to supporting the free flow
of information. Knight supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism,
advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that
democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged.
We first convened a panel to explore the issue of digital access in 2008: the Knight
Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy. A year later
the commission released a report “Informing Communities: Sustaining Democracy
in the Digital Age,” with recommendations that were largely adopted by the Federal
Communications Commission in its own report, “The Information Needs of Communities:
The Changing Media Landscape in a Broadband Age.”
 
More recently, the first Knight News Challenge of 2014 asked, How can we strengthen the
Internet for free expression and innovation? Knight received 704 entries in the challenge,
an open call for ideas, and in June awarded almost $3.5 million to 19 projects.
The conversation continued in August during the 2014 Forum on Communications and
Society at Aspen Institute where thought leaders explored how Internet regulation would
help or hurt the potential of this resource.
knightfoundation.org
 
Knight and the Open Internet
22

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Decoding the Net Neutrality Debate

  • 2. T he debate over regulation of the Internet may be one of the most important of our day. Companies that have invested billions in Internet infrastructure contend that they need the ability to manage their networks, prioritizing some content over others to maintain service, and charging for higher speeds. Advocates of net neutrality see the Internet as a utility, essential for individual learning, working, civic participation and free expression, as well as economic competition and innovation – too important to have fast lanes and slow lanes, with the fastest speeds going to the highest bidder. The debate intensified this year, when the Federal Communications Commission invited public comment on new proposed regulations that stop short of the standards demanded by net neutrality advocates. The call elicited 3.7 million comments, as well as a storm of debate on Twitter and an avalanche of press coverage. Subsequently, President Barack Obama aligned with net neutrality supporters, but the new rules remain to be written. The technical complexity of Internet regulation, and lack of direct historical precedent, make it difficult to engage the public in an informed debate and develop regulations that will remain effective over time. To tackle these challenges, both policymakers and citizens need to better understand public opinion, amid a torrent of organized advocacy from both sides. Knight Foundation partnered with Quid, a data analytics firm, to separate the signal from the noise. THE NET NEUTRALITY DEBATE 1
  • 3. The Federal Communications Commission regulates interstate and international communications in the United States and its territories. Its issuance of an order in 2010 aimed at preserving the open Internet precipitated a lawsuit by telecommunications company Verizon. This year an appeals court vacated portions of the order, setting the stage for the FCC to draft new rules and invite public comment. Internet service providers and telecommunications companies provide the means— the pipelines—that connect the Internet to homes and businesses. They invest in cable and wireless networks that facilitate access and seek to recoup those costs and generate profits by providing services to the public and other customers. They include companies such as AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and Time Warner Cable. The public uses connections provided by Internet service providers and telecommunications to access the Internet, which provides global links to family, friends and services. Startups rely on the open Internet for offering services to customers; pay-to-play regulations that give preferential speed to established companies would inhibit competition. Technology companies provide services and content to the public. They depend on Internet service providers and telecommunications companies for delivery. They include companies such as Amazon, Google and Netflix, which all deliver entertainment and media to the public. KEY PLAYERS 2
  • 4. Quid conducted the following research on net neutrality: • Media analysis of more than 35,000 news sources and 300,000 blogs from January to July 2014. • Twitter analysis of 120,000 tweets with #NetNeutrality from July to August 2014 and from #InternetSlowdownDay. • Comment analysis of about 1 million public filings to the Federal Communications Commission. • Lobbying analysis of approximately 2,500 filings from 2009 to the second quarter of 2014 from the U.S. Senate Lobbying Disclosure Act Database. • Grant funding analysis of data for media access and telecommunications companies. ANALYZING THE DEBATE Here are some of the broader questions the analysis raises: • What is public sentiment related to net neutrality? • How has net neutrality been covered in the media and discussed on social media? What has influenced the conversation? • How are organizations and companies attempting to influence the net neutrality debate? 3
  • 5. • Public opinion was overwhelmingly pro net neutrality. The main narratives expressed on Twitter and FCC comments favored egalitarianism and fairness: Don’t create an Internet of haves and have-nots; treat the Internet like a utility, available for all. Net neutrality was also seen as essential for start-ups to succeed against established companies. • Telecom and cable companies chose lobbying over public debate. They appeared to make only limited efforts to sway public opinion through traditional or social media, instead pouring significant amounts of money into lobbying. Their main narrative focused on the enormous bandwidth used by content providers such as Netflix, who should not get a “free lunch” from companies that have invested billions in building networks. • Male and urban voices were overrepresented in the debate. As for the media, it covered the debate as a tech story and as a political story; local communities were not engaged. KEY TAKEAWAYS 4
  • 6. MEDIA COVERAGE OVER TIME Spikes in news coverage coincide with announcements by the Federal Communications Commission. Over time, more voices have joined the conversation. Court issues ruling in favor of Verizon,net neutrality now in question Net neutrality news volume from Jan. 1 - July 18, 2014 FCC releases draft rules, includes fast lane Internet FCC votes to move forward with new rules, public outcry Tech companies send letter to FCC, supporting net neutrality FCC extends public comment period John Oliver segment goes viral, crashing FCC website Netfix CEO Hastings calls for net neutrality FCC announces plans to draft new regulations Unique article count 350 300 250 200 150 100 50 0 JAN 2014 FEB 2014 MAR 2014 APR 2014 MAY 2014 JUNE 2014 JULY 2014 5
  • 7. Net neutrality was more likely to be covered in media outlets focused on technology or politics, rather than financial or local news. A TECH STORY, A POLITICAL STORY, BUT NOT LOCAL NEWS Net neutrality Random news 41% 27% 17% 14% 26% 9% 39% 18%6% Mainstream Local Financial Political Tech Other News volume by source type, top 200 sources Jan-July 2014 Net neutrality vs. random sampling of news Note: Other includes sports, entertainment, blogs, magazines, video games and other sources 6
  • 8. The Players: Companies on both sides of the net neutrality debate were prominently mentioned in news reports. Netflix 3,839 Google 3,533 Comcast 3,455 Verizon 3,330 ATT 1,802 Facebook 1,730 Time Warner 1,421 Amazon 1,222 Twitter 1,204 Apple 687 Microsoft 569 Free Press 385 Hulu 353 Yahoo! 290 Reddit 245 0 400 800 1200 1600 2000 2400 2800 3200 3600 4000 Top 15 companies by count of mentions Tech Telco Org 7
  • 9. The Influencers: The leading voices cited in news reports favored net neutrality. During the analysis period, President Obama was frequently criticized for his absence from the debate. However, in November he weighed in with a strong statement and video in support of net neutrality. Barack Obama 1,104 Reed Hastings 504 John Oliver 372 Tim Wu 327 Al Franken 302 Jessica Rosenworcel 282 Mignon Clybum 246 Craig Aaron 238 Ajit Pai 233 Julius Ganachoswki 207 Edward Snowden 189 Michael Powell 169 Neelie Kroes 137 Mike Weinberg 136 Anna Eshoo 120 Top 15 people by count of mentions* Political Influencer Corporate FCC *Tom Wheeler is omitted as he is present in ~3,500 articles surrounding net neutrality 8
  • 10. a Demographics overview: The readership of media outlets covering the net neutrality debate skews to a wealthier, male audience, with no age bias. AGE Demographics of net neutrality news, relative to random sample INCOME GENDER FEMALE MALE *Demographic data obtained from a random week of news from July 12 to July 18, 2014 9
  • 11. A central narrative during the period analyzed was that net neutrality stimulates innovation, helping startups compete against established companies. @Kickstarter, for example, tweeted to its 868,240 followers that “When we launched Kickstarter we didn’t need to negotiate a deal for access to the Internet fast lane. We just plugged in. #NetNeutrality” Advocates of net neutrality were dominant on Twitter. While some shared news and education stories on net neutrality, significantly more tweets analyzed led to advocacy sites, which generally offered templates to submit comments to the FCC. Women were again underrepresented in the debate. Twitter users from metro Boston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., were overrepresented in the conversation. Based on an analysis of tweets from July to August 2014. TWITTER NARRATIVES 10
  • 12. Retweets: Top retweets relate to calls to action, with some commentary and education interspersed Top tweets by retweet count Cable’s trying to end #netneutrality break the internet for profit. 36 hours left to stop em http://t.co/YM ... http://t.co/53.... Last chance to save #NetNeutrality http://t.co/dj.... #cablecompanyfuckery /PLS RT! PLS RT! http://t.co/bM... Your future without #NetNeutrality: http://t.co/R...http://t.co/MV... A lot more people would become passionate about Net Neutrality if we renamed i Operation Porn Freedom Net neutrality explained: http://t.co/o... US Web Companies Press Demands for Net Neutrality With FCC - #TechTongue #Tech #Mobile http://t.co/b... Why the FCC is ditching net neutrality: http://t.co/bM... http://t.co/W... FCC Net Neutrality deadline extended to Friday http://t.co/P... http://t.co/TU... User Tim Berners-Lee Cory Doctorow BitTorrent, Inc. Kumail Nanjani George Takei Tech Tongue Mother Jones Cory Doctorow RT 6,165 2,711 2,540 1,963 1,429 1,357 1,286 1,238 Favorites 1,799 608 2,026 2,001 1,190 21 363 501 Note: Tweets with at least 1,000 retweets in July and August 2014. 11
  • 13. Non-metro Non-metro Twitter geography: The top metro areas are driving much of the conversation on Twitter #NetNeutrality Twitter network Metro Metro General Twitter network Gender: Women tweeted less than men on net neutrality. Actual 1 Based on sample of 20,000 tweets from July 9, 2014 – Aug. 20, 2014. 2 Top metros are defined as the New York, Boston, DC, LA and San Francisco areas, and location is based on user input when signing up for Twitter. Expected 50% 50% 69% 31% #netneutrality1 63% 38% 46% 54% 12
  • 14. Commenters on the Federal Communications Commission site overwhelmingly favored net neutrality, according to Quid’s sentiment analysis of 1.1 million of the the 3.7 million comments submitted. Many individuals took the time to write — unique comments, as opposed to form emails or advocacy templates — accounted for 40 percent of those analyzed, much higher than the typical 10 to 20 percent. The largest clusters of comments had the following themes: • There is strong legal ground for reclassification of Internet service providers as Title II common carriers • The FCC should reject the proposed fast and slow lanes on the Internet • Internet service providers already have monopolistic power There were anti-net neutrality responses as well, but the only one common enough to register was from a template. FCC COMMENTS ANALYSIS 13
  • 15. THEMES OF PUBLIC COMMENTS Individual comments were overwhelmingly pro-net neutrality and quite diverse, though the idea that the Internet should be reclassified as a common carrier for regulatory purposes was central. Based on Quid’s analysis of 1.1 million comments submitted to the FCC. Each node represents a group of similar, unique comments. Comments from templates have been omitted. Unfair to charge for preferential treatment (2%) FCC should ban paid priortization (4%) Strong legal ground for Title II reclassification (14%) FCC should schedule public hearings (3%) Unfair for ISPs toextort payments from companies/ entrepreneurs (3%) Internet as public utility (2%) Internet is like free speech – a cornerstone of modern life (3%) FCC should reject the proposed fast and slow lanes (10%) Concerns over the pay-to-play Internet (3%) Reclassify broadband Internet or there will be fast lanes and slow dirt roads (3%) Profane comments targeting the FCC (7%) FCC rule changes will benefit larger corporations (4%) FCC unique comments, colored by topic ISPs already have monopolistic power (7%) Concerns for small business and individual content sites (1%) 14
  • 16. TOP PARTICIPATION RATES BY STATE Many of the unique comments came from Washington, D.C., which was proportionally overrepresented based on its population. The Southeastern United States, however, was underrepresented. Comments count based on sample of ~300,000 comments. State of comments based on user input address. Expected population based on 2013 projected Census data. 15
  • 17. Large Internet service providers, such as Verizon, Comcast and ATT have largely avoided the public debate, instead seeking influence through lobbying, spending more than $238 million on filings that mentioned the term “net neutrality” at least once, according to the Quid analysis. Advocacy groups, particularly pro net neutrality groups, concentrated their outreach through Twitter, using impassioned language to call people to action. These groups have sought to encourage people to submit FCC comments, often even providing templates that break down into three areas: • Protect the diversity of the Internet: 24 percent (of the templates submitted) • Schedule public hearings before making a decision: 14 percent • Reclassify Internet service provides to allow more regulation by the FCC: 14 percent The only significant anti-regulation template (4 percent) advocated not reclassifying ISPs. Netflix also has been one of the leading advocates for net neutrality, with its CEO Reed Hastings being a vocal supporter. It has had an effect on the public conversation, with 5 percent of media about net neutrality surfacing around Hastings’ criticism of Comcast and Verizon. The ISPs have responded, saying Netflix shouldn’t expect anything for free, but that is the rare representation of Internet service providers attempting to sway public opinion in the media. INFLUENCING THE DEBATE 16
  • 18. Influence strategy Comcast focused on lobbying, but has recently pushed through corporate announcements and advertisements to promote their own open internet philosophy The NCTA is the face of the telecom companies, and has promoted both Google Twitter ads to push their interests Verizon has focused entirely on lobbying and has made few announcements or public efforts to influence the conversation, except for a few quotes from spokesmen. Netflix has used CEO Reed Hastings to prominently argue for net neutrality while criticizing ISPs. Netflix has made streaming deals with all major ISPs for direct access to their networks. Google has largely remained in the shadows of the conversation besides signing on with 100 tech companies in support of net neutrality. Recently, they launched the ambiguous “Take Action” showcasing the need for a free and open Internet. Type Telcos Tech Cos Example Corporation Comcast National Cable and Tele- communications Association Verizon Netflix Google Lobbying $s $83M $12M $100M $0M $53M Corporate strategies: In lieu of trying to sway public opinion, corporations are largely focusing their efforts on lobbying. 17
  • 19. Pro-Internet service provider dollars dwarf spending for both pro-net neutrality lobbying and grants. Lobbying spending peaked in 2010 and 2011. The FCC issued its open Internet order in 2010. Note: Against - Recording Industry Association of America, ATT, Comcast, National Cable and Telecommunications Association, Verizon, Writers Guild, National Music Publishers, Time Warner, BroadcastMusic, Hughes Network Systems, Frontier Communications, Viacom, Tekelec, Charter. Pro – Expedia, Level 3, Dish, Microsoft, Google, AOL 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 Lobbyist dollars, top 20 clients over time (millions) 2009-2013 $90 $80 $70 $60 $50 $40 $30 $20 $10 $0 Net-neutrality specific grants Pro-ISP lobbying Pro-net neutrality lobbying 18
  • 20. Lobbying spending: Telecommunications company focus on lobbying to push their interests. Some technology companies, such as Google are becoming more active. Verizon Comcast ATT Google Recording Ind Assn of America NCTA Viacom Time Warner Charter Communications Expedia, Inc. National Music Publishers Assn. Broadcast Music, Inc. Writers Guild of America Microsoft Level 3 Communications AOL Inc. Dish Network Hughes Network Systems Frontier Communications Tekelec Pro net neutrality Against regulation $ $20 $40 $60 $80 $100 $120 M Lobbying spending on filings with at least one ’net neutrality’ issue Q1 2009 - Q2 2014 19
  • 21. Top advocacy organizations: Top advocacy groups have a significant and active presence on Twitter and created FCC templates to push their interests. Website language “Pay-to-play: Internet stifles innovation. These practices pose a dire threat to the engine of innovation. The Internet thrives because it is an open and free marketplace of ideas. Big Telecom will create a “pay-to-play” system that will unfairly favor large corporate websites. Battle for the Net: Team Cable vs. Team Internet If anything is going to slow down the Internet, it’s Title II, the mess of outdated and heavy- handed rules that have been coflated with net neutrality. Organization Number of followers 232,000 165,000 50,800 8,671 Number of tweets* 20 0 238 54 Count of templates 84,438 50,844 11,800 N/A** Pro/Anti regulation Pro Pro Pro Anti *Number of tweets from Aug. 18 to Sept. 17, 2014 containing #netneutrality, net neutrality, #openinternet or Open Internet **TechFreedom’s template was launched after the 1.1M comments were collected 20
  • 22. Quid’s analysis unveils the prevailing narratives and influencers shaping the net neutrality debate. It raises several provocative questions about the future of the open Internet and policy decisions: • The public voice that has participated in the conversation has overwhelmingly supported net neutrality. How will that affect the final decisions made by the Federal Communications Commission and political leaders? • The net neutrality debate has been dominated by men and a handful of major metropolitan areas. Since the voices of women and much of the country have not been equally represented, how will this affect the conversation and the policies that emerge? Should efforts be made to bring more voices into the conversation? • What impact will lobbying have on the future of the open Internet, especially given that more money is devoted to lobbying against net neutrality? Perhaps most important, we as a democratic society must consider how rules and regulations either protect or restrict our freedoms. At Knight Foundation, we believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. What are the actions that get us closer to that ideal? KEY QUESTIONS 21
  • 23. Quid’s analysis is part of Knight Foundation’s commitment to supporting the free flow of information. Knight supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. We first convened a panel to explore the issue of digital access in 2008: the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy. A year later the commission released a report “Informing Communities: Sustaining Democracy in the Digital Age,” with recommendations that were largely adopted by the Federal Communications Commission in its own report, “The Information Needs of Communities: The Changing Media Landscape in a Broadband Age.”   More recently, the first Knight News Challenge of 2014 asked, How can we strengthen the Internet for free expression and innovation? Knight received 704 entries in the challenge, an open call for ideas, and in June awarded almost $3.5 million to 19 projects. The conversation continued in August during the 2014 Forum on Communications and Society at Aspen Institute where thought leaders explored how Internet regulation would help or hurt the potential of this resource. knightfoundation.org   Knight and the Open Internet 22