can you guess a website that might be affected?
Sure, I run one! The Verge produces a ton of videos every day, and we put them on Facebook, YouTube, and our own internal player, with the expectation that everyone will have equal access to them. Get rid of net neutrality rules, and some of our audience might get YouTube videos for free from their ISP, while Facebook hits their data cap. Other customers might have our internal player run slowly but YouTube in a fast lane because Google struck a deal. Our business would change dramatically if we had to factor in the costs users on every different ISP would pay to see our stuff.
And the worst case is that one of our competitors might pay for fast lane access that we can’t really afford and start to win users because our site loads artificially slowly. I’m a competitive person and I want to win, but I also love that The Verge has to earn our audience against terrific sites like Wired and CNET every day. I don’t want to win or lose just because someone paid Verizon. That’s just icky.
A lot of the websites that will be most affected by rolling back net neutrality don’t exist yet. Right now, someone is building the next YouTube, the next Twitter, or the next Uber. And it has amazing, transformative features that none of us have even thought of yet.
But imagine what will happen if big ISPs can throttle or block their content partners’ competitors. That will create a major hurdle for any new player. If ISPs have the power to push us away from new players’ services toward those of their corporate partners, then users have less power to decide which services will succeed.
There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of websites that cater to an audience of Black, Latino, Arab and Muslim, queer and transgender, women and young people that may find themselves unable to pay enough to be heard. Online ethnic media and media targeting communities pushed to the margins of public debate have provided a needed respite from the scapegoating and stereotypes of mainstream cable news. Websites like Essence.com,Very Smart Brothers, Jack and Jill Politics, the Root and so many more, too many to name, might find themselves unable to reach their audiences. Their websites aren’t the only ones that will be affected. Many of the start up companies like Etsy, Task Rabbit and more may find themselves unable to compete against older and wealthier companies. If net neutrality is repealed, the next website unable to thrive may be yours.