Wednesday, April 28, 2021
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The day the Internet was saved, llamas ran free and America was divided over a dress

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) took a big first step toward ensuring an open Internet last Thursday, when it approved net neutrality by a 3-2 vote.

The FCC established a new Open Internet Order, implementing net neutrality and prohibiting paid fast lanes, among other things.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler told The New York Times that the FCC is using “all the tools in our toolbox to protect innovators and consumers.”

Essentially, net neutrality ensures that Internet service providers (ISPs) provide open and equal access to all Internet sites. Without the protection of net neutrality, companies could force other companies to pay for faster speeds. That means Twitter, Spotify or even Netflix could slow down depending on your ISP subscription.

The vote also reclassified ISP offerings as telecommunication services under Title II of the Communications Act. Reclassifying broadband as a utility gives the FCC more power over the providers.

In response, Broadband for America, a coalition whose members include ISPs, said the vote is a major step backward for America’s Internet.

“The FCC’s decision to impose obsolete telephone-era regulations on the high-speed Internet is one giant step backwards for America’s broadband networks and everyone who depends upon them,” co-chair Harold Ford, Jr. said.

While this is an important victory for net neutrality advocates, it is highly unlikely that the fight is over. The new rules could go into effect in a couple of months, but it will likely be challenged in court by at least one ISP. Republicans, who accounted for the two dissenting votes on Thursday, could also pass their own rules and legislation in Congress concerning net neutrality.

Just hours after the Internet was saved, the first stars of the new age were a pair of llamas. That’s right, llamas.

A pair of llamas made national headlines and became trending topics after an hour-long chase, which streamed live on television. The duo dodged cars, avoided lassos and became Twitter celebrities.

They instantly became trending topics on Twitter, as well as earning their own parody account. Just search for #LlamasonTheLoose.

 

But that was just the start of the new age of the Internet in America.

Late in the day on Thursday, a picture of a blue and black dress went viral. It wasn’t just any dress, though. It divided families, strained relationships and polarized America: are you team blue/black or team white/gold?

The photo has been seen as blue and black, and as white and gold. It has been talked about on almost every national news show, talk show and late night show since. The different interpretations have been credited to the science of how our eyes interpret color.

The photo almost broke the Internet. In fact, it nearly did break BuzzFeed. At its peak, more than 670,000 people were simultaneously reading the article on the site, according to Jon Passantino, the Deputy News Director at Buzzfeed.

On Saturday afternoon, the post had been viewed almost 37 million times, with 68 percent of viewers seeing white and gold and only 32 percent seeing blue and black.

This is how we celebrated the dawning of an open Internet in America: llamas and dresses.

At least we will always remember the day that the Internet was saved.

 

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