We Must Control Our Narrative
As I sit at my computer contemplating everything I want to say about Net Neutrality, I do not know if I have the words to express how real this issue is. Earlier this month, I was blocked by Facebook from running an ad about a Black History for Kids and Writing Skills course that I am teaching for elementary students. Initially, the ad was accepted and it ran without any problems. Once I tried to narrow the audience further, to Black women, in order to obtain an even clearer picture of my real audience for the ad, I received a message that my entire ad was suddenly in violation of community rules. The claim was that I was selling credit repair and/or other financial services against Facebook policy. I was asked to certify that my ad fell into this category before it could run. I refused.
My ad had nothing to do with any type of financial services, and more importantly, exactly the same ad had been previously accepted without a glitch. If the site simply does not want people advertising to specific racial groups, they could have said that. Furthermore, if trying to sell to a specific racial demographic is problematic, it should not be an option, and an advertiser should not be forced to make an untruthful certification in order to run a paid-for campaign. After reading the article “Net Neutrality: What You Need to Know Now” by Free Press, I believe more than ever that there is something more sinister going on behind the scenes. There is a darker reason why Facebook decided to block my ad regarding educating children about Black History. The bottom-line is that Big Brother is pulling the strings. He will make them go wherever he likes as long as you let him.
“Our privacy is our currency.”
After this dismaying incident, I started doing some research. I found that there are a number of people who have plenty to say about entities, such as Facebook, directing the flow of conversation. Though some would argue that we are borrowing the space for “free,” so we should not be surprised when the powers-that-be decide how they want us to use it. We have to “pay-to-play.” The reality is that those billion plus users that are on the platform already have paid dearly. Our privacy is our currency. By agreeing to all of the access options you must accept before using their system, you have given them unlimited ability to exploit your information for gain. On the flip side, after mining, selling, and using your data to financially gain from you and your “friends,” Facebook will then turnaround and silence your voice whenever they feel like it. This silencing behavior will be one of the biggest hurdles we face if Net Neutrality dies.
With its demise, Internet service providers will be able to use their power to slow down and/or block any conversation they do not feel is “appropriate.” This will undoubtedly lead to already marginalized communities being even more ostracized, because while we now have the Internet to connect and start movements with like-minded people, with Net Neutrality gone, there will be nothing stopping these companies from squashing a revolution before it starts. We will be forced to revisit the avenues our former resistors implemented in order to unify and be heard.
I am keenly aware that I cannot depend on another person’s work for my growth. This is especially true when it comes to my business or social movements. It is imperative that I do not lie my life or career at the mercy of some conglomerate’s feet. This is one of the reasons why Now With Nicole now has its own chat room space. I want to have important conversations in my space. An area where someone cannot just randomly decide that they will not be shared.
With the end of Net Neutrality lurking, it is not only third-party sites that I am giving the twice-over. I firmly believe that I also will not be able to fully rely on my paid-for website. Over the past couple of months, I have been witnessing server issues that I never formerly experienced. Inexplicable slow downs, error messages when GoDaddy’s servers are still running “perfectly fine,” updates stalling and canceling in the middle of my work, it is as if my voice already is being targeted….
It is in this moment that I remember the creativity and dedication to success of our ancestors. When I press to that higher calling of the Harriets, the Claudettes, the Malcolms, and the Martins who paved the way. We must channel that fighting spirit if we are to win at this current game of life. Maybe going back to the former methods of connecting will be the precise wake-up call that we need.
If you would like to connect with me further, please subscribe to my website and join the conversation. If you are concerned with the ending of free speech on the Internet, contact your congressperson and tell her or him to vote against Trump’s FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai’s, recommendation to gut the current policy for an open Internet.