Margaret Eby
September 10, 2014 1:05 pm

If you’ve been clicking around as usual today and spotted a couple of those dreaded “loading” signs on your favorite sites, don’t freak out. Your computer isn’t broken. The banners are a part of a collective protest for net neutrality known as “Internet Slow Down Day.”

A whole host of big name sites—from Reddit to Netflix to Etsy to Digg—banded together today to show their opposition to new proposed changes to the way the Internet is regulated. What are those changes, you ask? Well, basically, the Federal Communications Commission put forth a new plan for the way that the Internet will run. Under new FCC guidelines, the Internet would no longer be a level playing field. It would have two speeds: a “fast lane,” which big companies would pay a premium for, and a slower lane for everyone else. That means that one of the greatest things about the Internet, the ability for little start-ups to challenge huge companies or pokey blog posts to go viral even up against their big media competition, would screech to a halt.

The idea of all those dreaded “spinning wheels of death” is to get Internet users to petition lawmakers in order to reclassify the Internet as a “common carrier.” That means that Internet service would fall under the same regulation as phone lines, as a public good instead of a commodity like cable. Companies that rely on the open Internet for their livelihood, like Google and Twitter, have called for the FCC to enforce net neutrality. Even Nancy Pelosi spoke out in favor of it. John Oliver maybe put the best spin on it during a heated segment on Last Week Tonight. “There’s nothing broken about the way the Internet is now,” he said. “So of course, the FCC wants to fix it.”

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