John Oliver's Cheeky Net Neutrality Plea Crashes FCC Website
John Oliver's Cheeky Net Neutrality Plea Crashes FCC Website
By Amanda Holpuch / theguardian.com
Jun 4, 2014

The US Federal Communications Commission website reported technical difficulties because of heavy traffic this week hours after comedian John Oliver called on viewers to share their thoughts with the agency about what he called “cable company fuckery”.

We’ve been experiencing technical difficulties with our comment system due to heavy traffic. We’re working to resolve these issues quickly.

— The FCC (@FCC) June 2, 2014

We’re still experiencing technical difficulties with our comment system. Thanks for your patience as we work to resolve the issues.

— The FCC (@FCC) June 2, 2014


On Sunday’s episode of the HBO show Last Week Tonight, Oliver encouraged viewers to take advantage of the 120-day open commenting period on the FCC’s Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet proposal and tell the government what they thought of the plan.

“Good evening, monsters,” Oliver said, before urging online commenters to submit their comments to the agency's site.

Critics say the FCC's plan would destroy net neutrality because it creates a “tiered internet” where companies could pay for higher speed access. To maintain net neutrality, they argue, internet should be classified and regulated like a utility.

Oliver's 13-minute description of the net neutrality debate was decidedly negative toward the FCC's plan, comparing TV and internet provider Comcast to a defence contractor for the amount of money it has spent lobbying for a tiered internet.

“We need you to get out and, for once in your lives, focus your indiscriminate rage in a useful direction,” Oliver said. “Seize your moment my lovely trolls, turn on caps lock, and fly my pretties, fly, fly!”

And, it would appear, they did.

Just after the segment aired on HBO, Last Week Tonight, and its fans, said the FCC comment feature was not working. The FCC confirmed that its system was experiencing technical difficulties because of heavy traffic on Monday, after Oliver's video was posted and widely shared online. By Tuesday, it had been viewed nearly 800,000 times.

We may or may not have crashed http://t.co/st6DgFYdhH. Whoops!

— Last Week Tonight (@LastWeekTonight) June 2, 2014

“We’re still experiencing technical difficulties with our comment system,” the FCC said on Twitter. “Thanks for your patience as we work to resolve the issues.”

The FCC told Variety that it was “unclear if the high volume was directly related to the John Oliver segment.”

More than 47,000 public comments have been filed on the proposal in the past thirty days. One comment published on Tuesday blasted "cable company fuckery," using Oliver's line. Another user cited a claim made by Oliver on the show: "It is embarrassing that Estonia has higher download speeds at lower prices than the USA."

One profanity-ridden post concluded with: "John Oliver told me to do this."

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John Oliver's Cheeky Net Neutrality Plea Crashes FCC Website