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A World Without Net Neutrality Illustrated – Why it’s Critical

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Ignoring articles on net neutrality? Don’t!

I’ll admit, net neutrality seemed like a geeky nerd dork fight that I heard about a long time ago, and I ignored any article that talked about it. Then, a few years ago I read an article that made my ears perk up and take note- net neutrality is what is keeping the internet open and free. Sure, you pay to access it but you don’t pay for use and if the telecommunications companies of the world have their way, that ends. This is what a world without net neutrality could look like (click image to enlarge):

net-neutrality

What do we do about it?

First and foremost, brush up on the topic, Jim Duncan wrote an article outlining net neutrality and it is very easy to read and understand and is a comprehensive guide to the issue. Telecommunications companies are saying that we’re running out of bandwidth and Nick Bostic discussed how this claim is bogus.

Without net neutrality, the Internet may become cost prohibitive both for consumers and agents and all of this effort we’re putting into our web presence is all for naught.

The National Association of Realtors supports net neutrality and getting involved NOW before it is a reality is the best action anyone can take. Write your local politician and tell them your view and ask them to fight for you, tell others what you think and don’t be quiet, this isn’t a minor issue, it’s a game changer.

Article originally published December 3, 2009

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Benn Rosales

    December 3, 2009 at 1:28 am

    The name of this issue needs to change to get people understanding it- it just sounds so damn confusing. With the right messaging, and using social media, this issue could be killed across the board. I fear it may be to late before anyone really realizes that no one get’s why it matters.

  2. Karen Rice

    December 3, 2009 at 6:02 am

    I agree with Ben – the name is very confusing. And what can we do about this to stop it?

  3. Amanda Wernick

    December 3, 2009 at 10:09 am

    I too had heard of “Net Neutrality” and even read up on it some, and will admit that when I fell into reading about it, thought it had more to do with internet censorship, not the cost of being online.

    As a Realtor and Social Media Trainer, I will definitely be writing to as many local politicians as I can and lof course, tweeting and RT this. Lani, since you are so articulate, how do you recommend we write the letters to make an impact as opposed to sounding like a whiny babies? Is there a petition that we could start that could be sent to everyone we know or to our local Real Estate boards, for example.

    Look forward to your words of wisdom! 🙂

    • Lani Rosales

      December 3, 2009 at 10:21 am

      Amanda, stay tuned for letter writing tips (or maybe even a form letter)… 🙂 coming shortly.

  4. Matt Stigliano

    December 3, 2009 at 10:33 am

    @LaniAR – As I told you, I think this graphic is one of the best explanations of why net neutrality is so important. It amazes me that the telco industry passes it off as a “necessary” thing in order to continue to bring us more bandwidth. Why do we let industries like this hold us hostage? The power industry does it all the time. You want wind power? Pay us more. Wind is a free resource, how can it be more expensive? The answer lies in the fact that companies have stopped believing in the “cost of doing business” and just want to pass the bills down to the consumer level. We even see it in real estate with “transaction fees.”

    I wonder what would happen if the telco companies did get away with it. Would we take a stand and give up the internet? Or would we just follow along blindly like we did when they offered packaged minutes on cell and home phones (minutes that you pay for, but don’t necessarily use – where’s the sense in that?)? One of the greatest tricks played on the world was convincing us to buy blocks of time for our phone usage. All those unused minutes are money in their pockets – for doing nothing at all.

    I’ll take this issue head on…I’ve got a few letters to write.

    • Benn Rosales

      December 3, 2009 at 10:40 am

      “The answer lies in the fact that companies have stopped believing in the “cost of doing business””

      One could argue that so have consumers? Infrastructure does cost money, but how much?

  5. Matt Stigliano

    December 3, 2009 at 11:33 am

    @BennRosales – True. I think my real frustration lies with companies who just cry poor and talk about how much these new innovations cost, when in the long run, they will profit from them. Should I as a consumer be responsible for building more windfarms (by buying wind power at a higher cost than my current electric) when in the long term, that company is using that windfarm as a profit center for themselves? Will they give me a return on my investment in the long term? Of course they won’t.

    • Matt Stigliano

      December 3, 2009 at 11:35 am

      I need to start making use of the “reply” feature on AgentGenius.

  6. jeremyjisaac

    December 3, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Call me cynical, but this issue is really pretty simple… If NAR supports it, then I don’t. Simple as that – almost.

    • Matt Stigliano

      December 4, 2009 at 9:13 am

      Jeremy – While I can take a few wild guesses why you would say that, I’d love to hear a bit more background and explanation. While I have never proclaimed my undying allegiance to NAR, I still support them in many efforts (but I’m not afraid to call them nuts when I disagree).

      • jeremyjisaac

        December 4, 2009 at 11:26 pm

        Matt,

        I was obviously overstated my point for emphasis, as indicated by the word “almost”. However, I do not often agree with NAR. The problem is that NAR (and local and state boards) feel the need to lobby for legislation that will supposedly help Realtors (and purportedly homeowners) in the short term. Now this is noble enough, but all to often it conflicts with principles. The first time buyer tax credit is a prime example. It helps homeowners and Realtors in the short term, but it is terrible long term economic and housing policy.

  7. Benn Rosales

    December 4, 2009 at 10:48 am

    NAR is correct in their position.

  8. Ruthmarie Hicks

    December 5, 2009 at 3:51 am

    I don’t often agree with NAR – but in this case I do. The Obama Administration is for net neutrality – the danger was greater during the Bush years. Unfortunately, opponents of net neutrality have websites with misleading names such as “Hands off the internet” which is Chinese for “let the telecom companies do anything they want.”

    Interestingly enough – those who appose net-neutrality come from the right wing of our society – conservative think tanks such as the Cato Institute and the Goldwater Institute, and Americans for tax reform” claim net netrality violates the frist amendment to the consititution??? Really? I don’t think the writers of the Bill of Rights was thinking in terms of the internet when they wrote the first 10 amendments to the constitution…

  9. Pingback: Even Twitter proclaims they support net neutrality, hooray! - AGBeat

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Social Media

Tiktok: Did they really just censor disabled users?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) TikTok was concerned about disabled users being bullied so in a stunning reversal, they limited those users visibility on the app. Yikes.

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TikTok, the popular social media platform where users upload short, often silly or light-hearted, videos is coming under fire this week. Internal moderation documents acquired by the German digital rights blog, Netzpolitik.org, show that TikTok has been discriminating against users who are disabled, queer, and fat.

According to these documents, TikTok instructed moderators to tag any content created by so-called, “special users.” The “special users” tag refers to users who are “susceptible to harassment or cyberbullying based on their physical or mental condition.”

The idea behind the tag was to provide these “special users” with protection from cyber bullying and online harassment. This was achieved by limiting the visibility of these user’s content. Videos with this tag had their viewership limited to the user’s country of origin and were prevented from being featured on the “for you” section of the app.

To make matters even worse, moderators only had about 30 seconds to make the decision to flag a video or not. Imagine looking at a complete stranger for less than a minute and having to decide if they fall somewhere on the Autism spectrum. Now, imagine doing that with only a 15 second video for reference.

Sources inside TikTok say that moderators complained about this policy multiple times, but their concerns were ignored. According to a TikTok spokesperson, the tag system was meant to be a temporary solution.

“This was never designed to be a long-term solution, but rather a way to help manage a troubling trend until our teams and user-facing controls could keep up.”

Point blank, TikTok discriminated against users based on their physical appearance and perceived disabilities. They denied these users a fair opportunity on their app by limiting the visibility of their content therefor preventing them from growing their audiences.

In their statement about the moderation policy, TikTok’s spokesperson asserts that the policy is no longer in effect.

“While the intention was good, the approach was wrong and we have long since changed the earlier policy in favor of more nuanced anti-bullying policies and in-app protections.”

Owning up to their mistake is a good start, but a simple ‘our bad y’all’ is not good enough. When a company currently estimated to be worth 75 billion dollars admits to blatant discrimination against its users, there need to be some reparations.

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Facebook is finally allowing you to use your data freely, kinda

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook is taking baby steps to improve data portability with new photo transfer tool. They are working with google, twitter, and microsoft to make it work

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Facebook is rolling out a new feature which will allow users to transfer their photos directly to Google Photos. The product is rolling out in Ireland first for some beta testing, but set to launch globally in the first half of 2020. At first glance this may seem like a mundane new tool, but it is just one thread in a complex web of legal and social change related to users’ right to their own data.

The true heart of this story is the ongoing issue of data portability. Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Microsoft are all part of the Data Transfer Project which aims to create data portability. Data portability refers to an individual users’ right to control their own data on the web, which includes the right to download and transfer their data to different services. The hope is that a seamless flow of data will create a more authentic sense of competition.

In their statement about the new product, Facebook reiterates this belief by stating, “we believe that if you share data with one service, you should be able to move it to another. That’s the principle of data portability, which gives people control and choice while also encouraging innovation.”

Being able to seamlessly transfer your photos from Facebook to any outside platform is a big step for a company that has spent most of the year in anti-trust investigations.

The photo transfer tool will be helpful to some users, but is it a genuine step towards breaking up the Facebook data monopoly? After all, Google has also gone through anti-trust investigations this year, so perhaps more open competition between two of the largest software companies on the globe is not exactly what legislators had in mind.

It’s nearly impossible to read whether Facebook’s attempts to improve global data portability are sincere or just an elaborate effort to keep governments off their bottom line. There is an argument to made about whether or not corporations can ever be sincere, but that is a story for a different day.

The best thing everyday users can do to protect their data right now is to stay informed and keep asking questions.

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‘Secret sister’ gift exchanges are not just lame, they’re ILLEGAL – tell your friends

(SOCIAL MEDIA) There’s a new gift giving program spread on Facebook but you may be giving more than gifts. Secret Sister is actually an illegal MLM that gives away your identity.

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secret sister gift exchange

‘Tis the season for Christmas themed pyramid schemes! No, we’re not talking about your favorite MLM adding some holiday flair (though that’s probably happening too), this is something more sinister: Secret Sister gift exchanges.

Not to be confused with Secret Santa (the anonymous gift exchange among friends), Secret Sister exchanges promises the impossible: buy one gift for a stranger, get upwards of 36 gifts in return. It might sound like a Christmas miracle, but it’s actually classified as a pyramid scheme… and gambling, to boot.

Not to mention, it’s definitely illegal, hun.

Circulated primarily on Facebook and targeted mostly at women, Secret Sister exchanges have been running since 2015, according to Snopes. Users are invited to join and invite up to six friends to participate too. Like all pyramid schemes, the further down the ladder you are, the less likely you are to receive many (if any!) gifts in return.

That’s the best case scenario.

Not only are you bothering your friends and potentially gaining nothing (or little) in return, you’re also at risk of identity theft when you participate in a secret sister exchange. Why? Well, most of these schemes involve users submitting important personal information such as phone number and home address, which aren’t the sorts of things you want falling into the hands of total strangers.

These “Secret Sister” gift exchanges might also go by other fun, festive names. For instance, one scam focused on “wine drinkers” and encouraged participants to purchase bottles of wine. But a pyramid scheme by any other name is still a massive waste of time and money.

A good rule of thumb? If something is offering amazing results for a fraction of the cost (like 36 gifts for the price of one), be wary. That’s the same promise you’ll get at a slot machine – and that’s less likely to steal your identity after you’ve lost money.

Not to sound like a PSA, but if you or anyone you know seems to be caught up in a secret sister gift exchange, get out! It shouldn’t be the season of law-breaking and identity theft. And if that $10 is burning a hole in your pocket, there’s plenty of ways to find some holiday cheer. Donate to a local charity, buy a gift for a coworker, maybe even treat yourself!

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