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John Oliver’s rant may have crashed the FCC Net neutrality comments page

Net neutrality is a complex and tedious subject. In spite of its importance in our daily lives, a majority of the population seems to have a hard time grasping its implications. We’ve attempted to explain it in better detail in this Net neutrality timeline, which you can peruse if you want to sound like an expert.

However, comedian John Oliver may have just provided the best explanation of Net neutrality ever. In a 13-minute tirade on his HBO comedy news show Last Week Tonight, Oliver rebranded Net neutrality as “Preventing Cable Company F***ery” and likened Pres. Obama’s appointment of FCC head Tom Wheeler, a former cable industry lobbyist, to hiring a dingo as a babysitter. 

He ended his rant with a plea to Internet trolls everywhere, asking viewers to answer the FCC’s call for public comments regarding the Net neutrality debate.

“I would like to address the Internet commenters out there directly. Good evening, monsters. This may be the moment you’ve spent your whole life training for,” Oliver said. “We need you to get out there and, for once in your life, focus your indiscriminate rage in a useful direction. Seize your moment, my lovely trolls.”

Oliver’s plea seems to have caused a disruption. Two days after his show aired, the FCC’s comments page for “protecting and promoting the open Internet” crashed due to “heavy traffic.” The agency sent out two tweets yesterday to apologize for the “technical difficulties,” which lasted for most of the day.

It’s not clear if John Oliver’s rant directly caused the crash or if it was just an anomalous uptick in Internet activism. Nonetheless, the timing seems to point to a connection. If you want to join in on the debate, you can contribute at fcc.gov/comments. We’ve tried logging on, but the page still seems to be down, so this may require some patience. If the downtime persists, don’t worry, you have until July 27 to file your own rant.

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