Net Neutrality – An Open Letter To Donald Trump

Thumbnail - Donald Trump - Make America Great AgainIf you’re an avid follower of this website, it’s probably not too hard to guess which way I lean politically. I’m in NYC – Staten Island to be precise. It’s like Trump-land over here. I see plenty of Trump signs on the island. What people once viewed as a joke is now reaching inevitability. Donald Trump could be the 45th president of the United States. So, what does that mean for technology? Specifically, what does that mean for Net Neutrality?

This is something that I’ve struggled with. My background is in Journalism. I’m to maintain strict objectivity. I don’t like to discuss politics here, as it’s an international website. And yet, I like Donald Trump. Aside from some cringeworthy comments, which I think he purposely does for media attention, he could be a great president.

I tend to have conservative views. That’s at odds with my interest in technology. Republicans don’t seem to get it. I’m far from the biggest Barack Obama fan in the world, but I think he’s been very good for technology. Would Tesla exist in a world where John McCain won? Would FCC Chairman Tom Wheeller become the champion of the Internet, by defending the idea of Net Neutrality? I’m not sure. I’m thinking probably not.

So, what would Donald Trump do? Is he against Net Neutrality simply because Obama was for it? Did Trump learn more about the issue and then change his mind?

What inspired this article was a recent AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit. Trump was answering questions to the /r/the_donald community. It’s a unique place. From my observation, Reddit tends to be a left-leaning site. However, that Trump sub-reddit is hard right. They love Trump and they love their memes. The strange thing is that this rebellious community, with their wacky jokes and swift rebuttals to hypocrisy, appears to be having an effect on a national campaign.

Just today, Fox News appears to have picked up the story from /r/the_donald – Google was returning suspicious search results for Donald Trump. For some reason, a search for the book “Crippled America” was associated with “Mein Kampf”. Is this a glitch? It seems suspect after the auto-complete being cleansed for “Hillary Clinton” related searches.

Are tech companies ganging up on Trump? It’s sad, but it’s starting to look that way to me. Even the incredibly popular AMA with Trump was not an easy find on the main /r/all page. Traditionally, media outlets love to have interviews with presidential candidates – especially ones as popular as Trump. And yet, Reddit was not actively promoting this popular content. Why?

Trump Controversial on RedditThe AMA appeared at the top of the “Controversial” section.

Maybe nothing nefarious is going on, but regulars to /r/the_donald are quick to complain about changes in the Reddit algorithm – which dramatically reduced the visibility of the sub-reddit.

Perhaps the problem is the wisdom of crowds, where members of the opposing viewpoint are actively trying to bury this content. Yet, this problem reminded me of Net Neutrality. Trump’s popularity is in part of his dominance on Twitter. He has millions of followers. He can bypass traditional campaign method with his mastery of the Internet. News networks regularly quote Trumps tweets. Surely he understands the importance of getting the message out there.

Like him or not, don’t you want to know the truth?

That’s where the problem expands. The Democratic convention, going on this week, is marred with scandal. Wikileaks released private email messages from the DNC. Apparently, the Democratic National Committee was working behind the scenes to favor Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. If that’s true, that’s despicable. I thought the United States was above third-world corruption. It seems that Bernie fans had their hopes and dreams stolen from them.

I was taught to respect journalistic values. But when I searched for a real job, I found that the world didn’t quite meet my expectations. The newspaper biz was dying and what remained was being gobbled up by big media corporations. Once I learned to see the slant in story telling, the news just wasn’t the same. I realized that I needed a career change. The profession was too dark, too political for me.

I switched to technology and enjoyed the boom. The Internet was guided with the idea of fairness. But with the craziness of the 2016 campaign, I’m seeing high ideals being twisted. It’s disturbing to me. That’s why I felt I should try to investigate this important matter. What is Donald Trump’s stance on Net Neutrality? I didn’t know, so I wrote to him to find out.