Monday, January 01, 2018 by Jayson Veley
On December 14th the Federal Communications Commissions voted 3-2 along party lines to do away with the so-called “net neutrality” rules that were first implemented back in 2015 by the Obama administration. This was seen as a rather significant victory for conservatives and free speech advocates alike, who were deeply troubled by the idea of the federal government playing more of a role in an otherwise free and open Internet. Under the Obama-era regulations, Internet service providers like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast were not permitted to block, slow access to or charge more money for faster Internet speeds above a certain threshold. Now that these rules have been repealed, however, the Internet is once again a free and open network for corporations and individual users alike.
Not everyone is happy about this change, however. In fact, in a surprising twist, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has come out against the repeal of net neutrality, arguing that the move is a direct attack on the homosexual community. As GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis stated, “Stripping away net neutrality is the latest attempt by the Trump Administration to silence voices of already marginalized communities and render us invisible. The Internet is a lifeline for LGBTQ people to build community support networks and access LGBTQ resources on history, suicide prevention, and health – allowing broadband providers to regulate access is a direct and unconscionable attack on freedom of expression.”
Of course, all of these concerns that GLAAD has over the repeal of net neutrality are primarily rooted in emotion and not in fact. You’ll notice that Ellis never stated which broadband provider has targeted the LGBTQ community and intentionally regulated access to Internet content regarding LGBTQ history, suicide prevention and health; instead, her argument was framed as “this could happen, so we should all condemn President Trump and the FCC.” The reason why she had to bring up what could happen rather than what has happened is because Internet service providers like AT&T and Verizon have never done that before, and they wouldn’t dare do it in the future, either. The amount of negative attention it would bring to these companies would be far greater than even the most skilled public relations teams could handle.
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which claims to be the “world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization,” says that in addition to condemning the Federal Communications Commission, Congress needs to be urged to “step up and listen to advocates who are leading the fight to preserve this lifeline.” In addition, GLAAD is beginning to collect “testimonials from the LGBTQ community about how the open Internet has affected their lives.”
If GLAAD is so concerned about the freedom of expression on the Internet, then surely they feel very strongly whenever giant corporations like Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube intentionally modify their algorithms and set up politicized “fact checkers” to censor conservative voices, right? After all, everybody knows that there really aren’t many other factions who get silenced on the Internet more than those on the right side of the political spectrum. Where was Sarah Kate Ellis when Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee had her pro-life political ad removed from Twitter due to the fact that it may have resulted in a “strong negative reaction?” Where was she when countless conservatives on YouTube, from Dennis Prager to Diamond and Silk, were seeing their right-leaning videos become demonetized? Where was she when several former Facebook employees came forward and admitted that they had been instructed to suppress conservative content?
The answer is simple: Sarah Kate Ellis was nowhere to be found. If she is concerned about preserving the freedom of expression on the Internet, perhaps she should sit down with a few conservatives and learn a little bit more about it.