These websites will pretend to load slower today: Here’s why

Some of the internet’s biggest websites are participating in today’s “Internet Slowdown” protest for net neutrality. Netflix, WordPress, Kickstarter and Etsy have been displaying a symbolic “loading” symbol (which organizers are calling the “spinning wheel of death”) on their home pages, as an an act of solidarity with the Battle for the Net campaign, which is pressing US regulators to prevent providers from charging premium rates for faster internet.

Netflix Screen grab

Wordpress.com
Kickstarter screen grab
Etsy screen grab

This protest won’t actually slow down the websites, but the point is to show users what the internet could look like if the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passes new rules that will require streaming sites such as YouTube and Amazon to pay for a higher-speed internet connection in order to continue delivering video at the same speed they currently do. Opponents of such rules say higher fees would likely shut out smaller competitors, and create an internet with a “slow lane” and a “fast lane.”

Each participating site is urging users to submit comments to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler ahead of Monday’s deadline.

Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, who has been a leading supporter in Congress for protecting net neutrality, joined the campaign by tweeting that an unequal internet would “shut down free speech.”

The campaign will run all day today.

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