VidCon: Do Consumers and Creators Have Net Neutrality ‘Message Fatigue’?

Anaheim, Calif. — Net neutrality has been a hot topic since FCC chairman Tom Wheeler first proposed new rules that could effectively turn ISPs into gatekeepers. But according to YouTuber Emily Eifler, who runs BlinkPopShift, many consumers and content creators are getting tired of the same old rhetoric.

“The net neutrality umbrella starts to become something that people get message fatigue about and the more you talk about just net neutrality as a topic I feel like the less people start to understand the individual issues under which you could organize people,” said Eifler, who made the remarks during a panel at VidCon in Anaheim, Calif. on Friday.

Eifler was joined onstage by fellow YouTuber Vi Hart; Michael Weinberg, VP of Public Knowledge; Paul DeGeorge, cofounder and director of campaigns and operations, The Harry Potter Alliance; and moderator Sahil Patel, editorial director of VideoInk.

Hart explained that one of the weirder issues as Internet speed. When she has to sit hours to upload a video, that’s a symptom of the problem. For the consumer, that symptom would translate into slow buffering and video freezing.

Another, perhaps even scarier side effect of the proposed rules is that ISPs could control the content a subscriber receives, speeding up or slowing down Internet speeds based on the ISP’s relationship with the content provider.

“I’m never going to make content the way that one of these large companies is going to want to sell,” said Hart.

If ISPs do become gatekeepers that could translate into higher Internet fees for consumers. For example, if Comcast wants Netflix to pay for priority access, then Netflix would have to in turn bump up their subscriber fees.

Weinberg, who works for public interest group Public Knowledge, said that he is collaborating on a collective YouTube action to bring awareness to the online video community and to galvanize the group.

“People in the FCC are maybe aware of Netflix and have probably been forwarded a cat video from YouTube but have no concept [of the community],” he said. “The good news for that, for the YouTube community, for the online video creator community, is that … no one in Washington sees you coming.”

The comment period for the proposed rules is set to end July 15 with Sept. 10 marking the last day for comment replies.

“The only people who benefit from a world without net neutrality are the cable companies,” said the Harry Potter Alliance’s DeGeorge.

Jessika Walsten

Jessika is content engagement director of Broadcasting + Cable, Multichannel News and NextTV. She has been with the brands in various roles since 2013. In her current role, she works primarily behind the screen, keeping an eye on the website and fixing any site bugs. A graduate of USC Annenberg, Jessika has edited and reported on a variety of subjects for NextTV, including profiles on industry leaders and breaking news.