Dec 072017

The Daily Dot posted an article titled “We fact-checked FCC Chair Ajit Pai’s net neutrality ‘facts’—and they’re almost all bulls**t

The fact that they censored two letters of “bullshit” should tell you right off the bat that they may not quite have a grasp on what bullshit entails.

I read this article while doing some research on Net Neutrality, and I actually really appreciate it. They, perhaps unusually for a media outlet, didn’t seem to want to tell direct, bold-faced lies. As such it’s very easy to see that the media (or at least, the media I’m used to reading) doesn’t actually care about what they facts say or imply. The battle for Net Neutrality is now an idealogical battle.

To save everyone’s time, I’m going to boil down Ajit Pai’s point Daily Dot’s counterpoint to what bare assertions with all the Fnords removed. I have not looked into any claims directly, I simply take them at face value, because that’s all you need with this article. Direct quotes in italics, occasional commentary by me in italics. Anyone who put a few points into Reading Comprehension can play this game. Let’s rate the bullshit together!

1A – The Internet was fine before the 2015 Regulations. 1B – That’ll remain the case after they’re repealed.

Contra 1A – “It’s true.” Contra 1B – ISPs didn’t want those regulations, therefore they must be good regulations.

“It’s true” doesn’t sound like “this is bullshit” to me. Sounds like two different groups arguing over which regulations to impose, with ISPs on one side and content-delivery-networks like Netflix and Amazon (CDNs) on the other. Verdict: this is not what bullshit means.

2A – Entrepreneurs and start-ups did very well in the pre-2015 enviroment. 2B – That’ll remain the case after the 2015 Regulations are repealed.

Contra 2A – “Yes.” Contra 2B – We believe ISPs will stifle them in the future, though.

Verdict: Agreement on half the point, contrary speculation on the other half. Not bullshit.

3A – ISPs didn’t block websites before 2015. 3B – They probably won’t after, and will be required by transparency laws to state when they do.

Contra 3A – “This is technically true” 3B – Users will have to police the Internet instead of the police, and you can’t count on them to do that.

Verdict: This is technically not bullshit

4A – Broadband investment as fallen two years in a row since the 2015 Regulations were adopted.

Contra 4A – This is “entirely false.” Investment has increased, speeds have increased, here’s links.

Verdict: Hey, now we’r getting somewhere! Actual bullshit!

5A – ISPs didn’t charge a premium to reach certain content online before the 2015 Regulations. 5B – They won’t after repeal, either.

Contra 5A – This is true, but it’s inconvenient that you want to base you predictions about the future on how things worked a couple years ago. Contra 5B – They EXTRA won’t if we keep these regulations, though!

Verdict: It’s starting to sound like the Daily Dot is the one peddling the bullshit here. I can’t judge based on the merits, as I haven’t looked into any of these claims yet, but boy, you guys really should work on sounding less weasley.

6 – The 2015 Regulations burden small ISPs and new entrants who can best introduce competition into broadband market.s

Contra 6 – Totes. “This one likely has the most validity to it.” But we can just selectively not apply these regulations to small/new ISPs!

Verdict: Holy shit guys, I’m actually on Pai’s side now. Is this a black-flag operation?

7 – Yes, there will be Internet Fast Lanes. This isn’t bad.

Contra 7A – We are in agreement, except we think this is bad.

Verdict: No bullshit, just differing values.

8 – The 2015 Regulations already permit bundling services. Portual has “Net Neutrality” regulations, and also has bundling, because that’s allowed under these kinds of regulations.

Contra 8 – “This one is totally true.”

Verdit: Anti-bullshit

9 – The 2015 Regulations stifle innovation. Here’s an example.

Contra 9A – That example is true. But it’s just one example, and on net it’s hard to say what will or won’t stifle innovation. Also, NOT having the 2015 Regulations can also stifle innovation. “for now at least, we’ll have to rack this one up as a big ol’ ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.”

Verdict: ಠ_ಠ

10 – The 2015 Regulations stripped the FTC’s ability to protect user’s privacy. Repealing those regulations will return that power to the FTC.

Contra 10 – “This one is true.” BUT Net Neutrality would have stronger privacy regulations, if Congress hadn’t removed those privacy rules from the regulations.

So the 2015 Regulations would protect privacy, if they protected privacy? I suppose I cannot argue with that on logical grounds. Verdict: both?

11 – Repealing the 2015 Regulations will lead to better, faster, cheaper internet for rural folks, city folks, space folks… basically ALL the folks!

Contra 11A – “This is entirely speculative,” “it’s possible,” “this is a great unknown.”

Verdict: OK, so sorta bullshity.

12 – The FTC is better at protecting the internet and consumer interests than the FCC is. Here’s some examples of things they did pre-2015 to protect consumers.

Contra 12 – We prefer the FCC.

Verdict: Another legit difference of opinion. Not bullshit. Although the contra point by The Daily Dot did include the bizarre line “the FTC creates a reactive approach to regulation—ISPs have to break the law first, then fix what their wrongdoing later, after the FTC cracks down.” Does the FCC have a Pre-Crime branch? How the hell do they stop wrongdoing before it happens?

13A – Most of the comments supporting the 2015 Regulations were faked, coming from botnets. 13B – Also, it doesn’t matter, internet comments don’t decide policy.

Contra 13A & 13B – “It’s true”

Verdict: Anti-bullshit, again. Tempted to score a negative-1 for this, but they were nice enough to include it rather than just omit the embarrassing points, and I don’t want to be churlish.

14 – The courts say it’s OK to repeal the 2015 Regulations and return to pre-2015 rules.

Contra 14 – Oh you poor, naive, child. We’ll be taking this to the courts for years.

Verdict: :(


My final tally:

2 items were actual or sorta bullshit
4.5 items were differences in values or conflicting goals. This is not bullshit, it’s what’s under debate.
7.5 items were not bullshit, and in many cases the Daily Dot literally said so themselves.

Ahem. “We fact-checked FCC Chair Ajit Pai’s net neutrality ‘facts’—and they’re almost all bulls**t.” 2 out of 14 is NOT almost all. Maybe those ** were standing in for “tamentsAboutOurDifferentPreferencesInRegulatoryStructures,ManyBackedUpByFac”

  10 Responses to “The Daily Dot Doesn’t Grok “Bullshit””

  1. I think that anything which claims that the regulatory environment before the 2015 regulations became necessary and after the repeal of those regulations is difficult to justify. Net Neutrality regulations have existed long before 2015. The changes in 2015 were in response to (I believe) a court decision which decided that the previous way the FCC justified net neutrality regulations was invalid. Following this the FCC in response to overwhelming public pressure found a new basis under which to keep those regulations intact.

    • Thank you! The Daily Dot should have said something along those lines, but I suspect they don’t know, which is why they flail about like this trying to toe the party line, rather than making substantive points.

  2. Based on what the EFF says (IANAL, I could be reading this wrong, etc., etc.), the FCC publishes its regulations up front, while the FTC doesn’t issue regulations except as case law when somebody complains.

    So the FCC doesn’t have pre-crime enforcement, but it does have pre-crime rules. It looks like the FTC doesn’t have rules until somebody break them.

  3. Wanna see something funny and related? And disturbing and horrible?

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