Today, over 75% of Americans log onto the Internet in their homes, offices, and increasingly on their mobile devices, resulting in 150 million Americans who spend an average of twelve hours a week surfing the web. The majority of these users subscribe to the open Internet through one of the nation’s major telecommunications giants. Today, AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner and Verizon, along with their industry and political supporters, are challenging the very structure of the Internet. These companies look to profit off Internet users and innovators by becoming the gatekeepers of all content, applications and services. In April 2010 these Internet Service Providers (ISPs) won a major court battle that will fundamentally alter the way consumers and Internet businesses can operate online.
This setback marks the beginning of a new era, one where the public must defend their right to access many of the Internet’s most popular websites and services. The Harmony Institute, a non-profit research center whose mission is to use mainstream entertainment to influence social change, has produced a communications guide on this vital public concern. FTW! Net Neutrality For The Win: How Entertainment and the Science of Influence Can Save Your Internet outlines the importance of protecting the open Internet, and strategies for communicators looking to motivate and influence public opinion.
WHAT IS NET NEUTRALITY?
The principle of net neutrality, which describes the current “openness” of the Internet, is essential to its continued expansion. As the guiding principle of the Internet we use today, net neutrality ensures all online users equal access to everything available over the Internet, without regard to content, source, or destination.
As the Internet grows in importance for all aspects of society, the issue of net neutrality has become integral to the preservation of the country’s most basic freedoms. The Internet needs active spokespeople who are invested in supporting national policies that ensure the Internet remains free and open to all.
FTW! clearly illustrates the history of the open Internet and the current debate on net neutrality. The guide is written for communicators from:
- Journalism and Media
It provides recommendations for how communicators can create effective messaging campaigns that inform the public on this critical issue.
Part One outlines:
- The urgency of garnering support for net neutrality
- A basic communications strategy for effectively translating this importance to the public
Part Two outlines:
- Examples of entertainment-education campaigns that have been effective at influencing social change
- The Harmony Institute methodology for adapting entertainment-education to mass media projects, with the use of proven behavioral science theory
The Harmony Institute believes that generating broad public support for the open Internet is the essential component for getting policy makers to take notice. It is public will that will counteract the pressure from another powerful constituency, ISPs. At a time when Americans are grappling with pressing issues both domestically and abroad, it may be easy to allow concern over net neutrality to take a back seat. Once one understands how the open Internet fundamentally influences every facet of our lives, it is clear that net neutrality should be a national priority. The Harmony Institute hopes communicators will help voice this opinion through one of the greatest, most prevalent tools at their disposal: narrative entertainment.