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



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):


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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  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


        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

Instagram now lets you create and share fundraisers

(SOCIAL MEDIA) If you’ve been wanting to start a fundraiser for something you care about, Instagram’s new feature lets you do just that. Go check it out!



Instagram Fundraiser

Instagram announced last week that it has launched a test for a Personal Fundraiser tool on its platform. The feature will allow users to start their own fundraiser if it complies with guidelines or choose an existing cause to support. The launch began in some US, UK, and Ireland markets and is available on Android and iOS.

In its announcement, the company confirmed that since January, more than $100 million has been raised for COVID-19 across Facebook and Instagram (also owned by Facebook), citing that donations on Instagram have doubled in the US in the past 30 days. The announcement said, “from people raising money to buy medical equipment for Black Lives Matter protesters, rebuilding Black-owned small businesses affected by COVID-19 and funding educational resources related to racial justice, people are eager to mobilize around causes they care about.”

Personal Fundraisers are short-term and meant to serve time-sensitive causes, with the initial duration lasting 30 days with the option to extend for an additional 30 days. Users must be 18 to create a fundraiser and have a designated bank account in which funds can be deposited. Donations will be processed through Facebook Pay, which also powers Instagram’s new shopping features. The platform covers fees for non-profits, but not for Personal Fundraisers. Donors can choose to keep their information hidden from the public, but organizers will be able to see user names and donation amounts.

To start a Personal Fundraiser, users with access to the feature can tap “Edit Profile”, “Add Fundraiser”, followed by “Raise Money”. They can then choose a photo, select the fundraiser category, and write out a story to encourage donations. When approved, users will be able to raise funds.

Instagram says it will expand the number of users who have access to this feature in the months ahead, as well as give users access to share fundraisers both in their Feed and within Stories. Fundraising features already offered by the company include Donation Stickers for Stories and a Live Donations feature for live streams.

This feature is similar to the fundraising feature already available on Facebook, Instagram’s parent company.

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Social Media

Should you be Facebook friends with your boss?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Are there times when it makes sense to connect with your boss and team on Facebook? Or is LinkedIn enough?



facebook friends

Just as we learn, grow, and change in life, so does our use of social media platforms and technology in general. It makes sense though – when hot new programs come out and “everybody’s doing it” (thinking of you MySpace and Plaxo), it’s easy to create a user profile to see what you think of the platform.

You may be a heavy user at first (looking at you Facebook) and then back off, only to use it for certain functions (Groups and Events for example). In the interim, you may have joined Instagram because for some reason it seemed simpler and light-hearted. And don’t let the new, shiny things coming out pass you by without at least seeing if you like them, or if they help entertain you and connect you to loved ones (looking at you Snapchat and TikTok).

Amongst some doubt of new or potential users in the mid-2000s after Facebook opened up to those outside of universities, we have to admit that Facebook has had a longevity that some of the other platforms have not. It allows you to keep your personal network in one place as well as your photos, significant dates, your career changes, events, and even see what your cousins are up to. It almost feels like once you’re invested, it’s hard to get out.

The thing is, there is definitely a grey area on who you accept as a “friend”. It really is up to each person’s comfort level on who they want to be connected to, and how much sharing they do on the platform. This article isn’t going to address Facebook privacy concerns and data sharing, but we do encourage you to look in to those if that is something that is important to you. It’s a similar idea with LinkedIn – some people are happy to connect with anyone and everyone, while others prefer to keep their connections to those they personally know and/or have worked with.

This story is addressing a question as it relates to an article in Inc. about whether or not is it’s ok for managers and employees to be “Facebook friends”, and some other tricky professional situations. We have to look at few things first, including the evolution of our use.

Since Facebook was made available to everyone, we have gone from a simple profile picture, relationship status (oof), and random updates about our breakfast/dentist appointments, to joining interest groups, sharing news articles, promoting brands and memes at a mind-boggling rate. Many people have considered deleting their Facebook profiles due to a high level of negativity, privacy concerns over their data and pictures, and how ultimately, scrolling your newsfeed can be a total time suck.

Many stay on because they are in groups (like super amazing, supportive, and popular ones such as Austin Digital Jobs) that they enjoy, and it’s a way to stay connected with others. This has felt true especially during COVID-19 where many people have lost their social outlets, networking opportunities, and have not been able to get together in person. Social media has also been a useful platform for small business owners and entrepreneurs to run a business page at minimal costs (free unless they run advertising), and reach out to customers. Facebook (owner of Instagram) also seems to have been making strides this year to better support small business owners.

So, should you be Facebook friends with your boss?

That is up to you (we are not here to tell you how to run your life) and while many have said, “Nope” in a super unofficial survey of 30 respondents, there were a couple of interesting perspectives:

“Since I’m my boss, twist on my answer… I don’t yes any professional that asks to be FB friends. That’s what my page is for. I even have a canned response that says this because I get so many asks. My personal FB is for actual friends of mine. I didn’t want to yes my MIL either. I have her on the restricted list.”

“I guess it depends. I’m friends with my boss and most of my coworkers. Creative shop within a corporation … about 45 strong. We are tight.”

“If you love your job and you love your boss then I think it is ok. I work 2 part-time jobs and both of my bosses are amazing! I am friends and Facebook friends with both of them.”

“I’m fine. I don’t post much on Facebook anymore. My bosses are all fairly chill. ”

“I have been Facebook friends with previous bosses while they were my boss. I am not with my current boss, but I’d be fine with it if we were. I don’t post anything too crazy, and I tend to over share in the office already. I like to be an open book. Tiktok would be different though… ”

For some who are part of a start-up or smaller team where collaboration and getting to know one another  are supported (thinking teams of 10 or less, hey AG Staff Writers), this may be more of the ‘norm’ and acceptable. However, the majority of people do not want to be “Facebook friends” with their boss to draw a line between work and personal sharing. Many people also mentioned that it varied if they chose to be Facebook friends with their colleagues, although they seem to be more open to colleagues vs. direct supervisors.

This seems to reflect back on how you use Facebook and if sharing your weekend or family photos is not something you want everyone to see. On the flip side, if you’re not sharing much, maybe you’d be OK with being connected there. A more professional way of connecting with your supervisor and others at work is through LinkedIn, and is in fact, highly encouraged.

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Social Media

Could TikTok soon be banned in the U.S for privacy breaching?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) TikTok, a video content social media giant, has been deemed a potential national security risk by the U.S Federal government.



TikTok is banned

U.S lawmakers are calling for a full investigation into TikTok, the fifteen second video app with almost 180 million downloads, after expressing concerns of a privacy breach by the Chinese government.

TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, purchased the platform originally known as in November 2017. Since then the social media app worth an estimated $150 billion has almost 180 million downloads in the U.S, and 800 million downloads worldwide.

According to Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, the U.S has reason to believe the Beijing-based company, ByteDance, may have been coerced into handing over data to China’s communist leaders. The app’s Founder, Zhang Yiming, and TikTok’s spokesperson responded to the accusations with the following statement: “TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the U.S. We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”

We don’t know if we believe you TikTok.

TikTok received over 500 legal demands, including emergency requests, in the first six months of 2020. TikTok has also previously confirmed that the app stores user data on “U.S-based servers” withdrawn from phone downloads. Information includes IP addresses, messages, location information, and according to Pompeo, “sensitive information”, exposed by data breaching that disregards American rights to privacy and potentially violates national security guidelines.

Company employees may live in the U.S, but with its head of operations stationed in Beijing, pressure from the Chinese Government to provide user information is a very serious concern for Americans using the app. 41 percent of its users are part of Generation Z, a highly influential, social media-friendly age group, ranging between 16 and 24.

A sense of invincibility within this age range encourages users to use the app without caution of personal information that may be provided or derived off your phone after installation. In the past two years, social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have also been criticized for not abiding to lawful privacy standards.

ByteDance has halted the use of its corporate office in Beijing and is looking to establish headquarters within the U.S or under new management.

The U.S. government is seriously considering banning the use of TikTok.

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