Despite the buzz around net neutrality, if you’re still not exactly sure what the phrase means, you’re not alone.
I’ll admit that while I try my best to stay informed, this is a topic that I haven’t quite been able to get a firm grasp of. But, of all sources that could enlighten us on the facts about net neutrality, Burger King probably isn’t the first one that would come to mind. The fast-food chain has created a 3-minute social-experiment video that might shed a little light on the issue of net neutrality for those of us who could use some clarification.
Check out the surprisingly informative—and sometimes terribly awkward—clip below:
Customers in the experiment were dismayed to learn that if they wanted a Whopper quickly, they’d have to pay more. The burgers were broken down into three price categories: “Slow MBPS” for $4.99, “Fast MBPS” for $12.99 or “Hyperfast MBPS” for $25.99. The employees had to explain to angry customers that they’d be forced to wait 15 to 20 minutes for their Whopper unless they wanted to shell out the big bucks, as a consequence of “Whopper neutrality” being repealed.
In this analogy, Whoppers are a stand-in for the internet and the ridiculous prices represent the often ridiculous prices set for various internet connection speeds offered by providers. In the video, the acronym MBPS stood for “making burgers per second,” but in real-life many of us who’ve compared internet service prices have seen the acronym MBPS, which actually stands for “megabits per second.”
At the end of the spot, a message reads: “The internet should be like the Whopper: the same for everyone.” Viewers are then directed to visit Change.org/savethenet.
In December 2017, the Federal Communications Commission repealed net neutrality regulations for internet providers. According to NPR, these regulations, which had been put in place in 2015, prohibited cable and telecom companies from blocking or slowing down specific websites or apps, and also prevented broadband providers from making deals that would give certain websites or apps “priority” over others. For instance, without net neutrality, an internet provider could make specific websites perform more slowly than others, likely leading users to ditch them for other websites.
Obviously, Burger King declared itself in favor of net neutrality regulations in its video.
Those in favor of net-neutrality regulations say they are necessary to keep companies from taking advantage of customers and controlling the content and speed at which internet users can access various websites, in the interest of making more money. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order that prohibits state agencies from doing business with providers that block rivals’ traffic or charge a premium for faster service.
“The FCC’s dangerous ruling goes against the core values of our democracy, and New York will do everything in our power to protect net neutrality and the free exchange of ideas,” Cuomo said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg.
Those who are against net-neutrality regulations say there was never a problem in the first place, and that the regulations were unnecessary. “This decision was a mistake. For one thing, there was no problem to solve,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a speech on the topic. “The internet wasn’t broken in 2015. We weren’t living in a digital dystopia. To the contrary, the Internet is perhaps the one thing in American society we can all agree has been a stunning success.”
Did Burger King’s video increase your understanding of this important issue?