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Ben Shapiro’s Net Neutrality Nonsense gets Neutered (Shapiro is Clueless)

Ben Shapiro recently took a stab at “explaining” net neutrality and why it’s a bad idea. As someone who works in a related field, it’s quite obvious to me that he has no clue what he’s talking about. While this is not new for Ben, it’s extremely clear in this case because instead of his usual 18 words/second where by sheer virtue of speed he convinces his audience he knows what he’s talking about, he stumbles and pauses through this one. It’s quite obvious he only opposes net neutrality because it involves government, and his ideological commitment forces him to therefore oppose net neutrality.

A couple of people who also work in related fields have torn his argument to pieces so there’s no point in reinventing the wheel. I will simply post the videos below, and then give my spiel below.

A network engineer eviscerates Ben’s nonsense
Another tech guru eviscerates Ben’s net neutrality nonsense
Progressive Voice tears into Shapiro and Crowder’s fallacies

Shapiro’s Lie by Omission

However bad Shapiro’s monologue is, one tactic of his REALLY bothers me. It’s his usual lie by omission. He claims “big companies support net neutrality.” It’s not a lie per se since some big companies do support it. But what he leaves out is that other big companies oppose it.

David Pakman and YouTuber Destiny dissect Shapiro’s disingenuous tactics.

The companies that oppose net neutrality are companies like Comcast, who act as the pipeline and stand to benefit by being free to charge variable rates (or provide variable download speeds) to different content providers. Companies like Netflix support net neutrality because they understand that without it, companies like Comcast can decide to charge more for streaming Netflix, while charging less for other services (for example, their own streaming service). In fact, there was as instance in 2014 where Netflix had to pay Comcast extra, because they were losing customers due to slow download speeds.

Netflix told the FCC that calls made to its customer support center about slow-loading videos on Comcast’s network more than quadrupled late last year. Credit: CNN

In other words, this would decrease market competition. With net neutrality, Comcast’s hypothetical own streaming service would have to compete on even grounds with Netflix. Without net neutrality, Comcast is free begin creating their own bundles and give them priority.

Net neutrality opponents tout the “free market” and claim that ISPs would be suicidal to throttle or favor certain services. This is nonsense for two reasons.

1- Most people only have access to one or two high speed providers. It’s not like they can simply “shop around.”

2- ISPs have already been caught testing the waters by throttling certain content providers (this was the point of the 2015 regulations).

Furthermore, the claim that Title II/Net neutrality has somehow hurt ISP investment is demonstrably false.

The Microsoft-Internet Explorer Example

For a salient example of how this does not reward best services, just take a look at Internet Explorer’s long run as the dominant web browser. While there were better browsers out there, they didn’t come bundled into Windows like IE did. In this case, Windows (and for that matter, PC’s) were the “pipeline.” And that pipeline gave preference to an inferior product, which gained market dominance because it was produced by the same company (Microsoft) who made the operating system (Windows). It would be the growing use of mobile phones and tablets that would allow Chrome (which comes packaged in Android phones and tablets) to become the leading internet browser.

Historic browser market share. CR: IB Times

This is what the end of net neutrality means. The Comcasts and Verisons of the world will be free to introduce and give preference to their own products, and give them market share even if they are inferior to competing products and services.

This is simply the reality of how markets work, and why certain regulations are necessary. Much of the market operates in this nuanced and interlinking manner, not in the oversimplified “I have a pencil and you have a dollar” scenario.

Ignorance is not bliss

On an equally sad note, in order to make their arguments, people like Ben Shapiro (and for that matter, Steven Crowder and Stefan Molyneux) keep their viewers ignorant of how the internet actually works. Steven Crowder made an insane analogy, claiming that net neutrality means pages have to be downloaded at the same speed and used an inaccurate “mailing a kettlebell and letter” analogy to make this point. This misleads his followers into thinking a large and small webpage have to be downloaded in the same amount of time. Shapiro makes more or less the same argument. What net neutrality means is that the two pages have to be downloaded at the same RATE. So if webpage 2 is10X larger than webpage 1, it will take 10X to load (all things equal). This is the sort of nonsense these guys sell their audience on.

Unfortunately, their followers have the same ideological commitments, and are not doubt satisfied by these easily-refuted arguments.