FCC chairman says social media presents a problem for a free and open internet

FCC chairman Ajit Pai has long been opposed to net neutrality rules as they're currently constructed, and in all likelihood, will go through with a proposal to roll back rules next month that were put in place by the previous administration. We knew that already. But what we didn't know is that Twitter is one of the reasons why we can't have a free and open internet.

That's Pai's logic, not ours. While speaking at an event in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Pai pointed the finger at Twitter and other big tech companies, essentially saying they wield too much control.

"Now look: I love Twitter," Pai said. "But let’s not kid ourselves; when it comes to a free and open Internet, Twitter is a part of the problem. The company has a viewpoint and uses that viewpoint to discriminate."

"And unfortunately, Twitter is not an outlier," Pai continued. "Indeed, despite all the talk, and all the fear, that broadband providers could decide what internet content consumers can see, recent experience shows that so-called edge providers are in fact deciding what content they see. These providers routinely block or discriminate against content they don’t like."

Yes, he really said that, and you can watch and listen to him in a video on R Street. He also took aim at Google and Facebook.

"They might cloak their advocacy in the public interest, but the real interest of these internet giants is in using the regulatory process to cement their dominance in the internet economy," Pai.

He said similar things about outspoken celebrities, such as Mark Ruffalo, Alyssa Milano, and Cher, "whose large online followings given them out-sized influenced in shaping the public." As BGR points out, Pai basically used a distraction tactic, choosing to attack the most vocal supporters of net neutrality rather than convincingly argue why net neutrality rules shouldn't exist.

Part of what's frustrating about Pai's comments is that it reinforces the futility in fighting against the FCC's proposal. That's not to say those who disagree with Pai don't have an outlet. In fact, there's a petition circulating with over 100,000 signatures calling for Pai's resignation. Of course, there was also a petition in 2016 to build the Death Star. We're not getting one, but the FCC is willing to destroy existing net neutrality regulations when it votes next next month on a proposal to do exactly that.