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Changing the way content is served could mean big changes for creators

You’ve no doubt heard about the Trump administration’s recent questioning of the Net Neutrality laws. If not, here’s the 30-second breakdown: the Obama administration put rules in place to prevent service providers (think companies like AT&T and Verizon) from playing traffic cop with the internet. This means that they have to give every website an equal playing field. So it is just as easy and quick for you to access the beautiful site of Vincent Carabeo as it is for you to access Amazon. The current FCC chairman, appointed by Trump, would like to repeal these rules in favor of deregulation.

We wondered about the implications of this kind of change for influencers, who make their living by producing content and distributing it on their personal sites as well as social channels. Here’s what we can predict so far:

Fast Lanes and Slow Lanes = Pay to Play

This deregulation means that the large service providers could open the internet up to function more like the capitalist model. The people who want their sites to be served up first or stream faster could pay for a “premium” service. The service providers would also have impunity to slow down the delivery of sites they didn’t want to surface or block them altogether.

Potential outcome: Social channels who have to pay more to get their channels served up on different service provider networks may ultimately pass those cost burdens onto the users who profit from their platforms. This could mean lowering algorithm priority for branded content to incentivize ads or straight up charging for branded content plugs. In some ways, they’ve been grooming you to self-identify as a person who profits from the platform: (they know if you have a business account, they know if you’re using the Instagram sponsored post feature.. You’re easy to find now).

More Fine Print and Data Caps = Higher Bills

The removal of these laws means that consumers will need to be painfully aware of their service provider’s policies in order to know how their service delivery is being affected. They could see their bills jump sky high if they’re accessing sites that the service providers deem more expensive to host. Right or wrong, no one reads the lengthy service agreements that come with their phones and other services– like that iTunes licensing agreement you’ve been blindly accepting since 2001– very few people are going to take the proactive steps to fully understand their ISP plans.

Potential outcome: fewer eyes available to see influencer content. Period. If the internet becomes pay to play at the highest levels and the service providers start prioritizing the content creators (or hosters) who are paying them more… then the little guys get left behind. If you’re a content creator who somehow keeps high traffic and engagement without joining the pay to play universe, they can just penalize your content — slow it to a crawl– in order to incentivize you to pay them for premium.

Mobile will get hit first, with specific aim being taken at streaming services. So if you are a creator with a weekly vlog or show, you could be the first to see hits in your traffic and the way that your content is served. Wired describes it this way: “Because many internet services for mobile devices include limits on data use, the changes will be visible there first. […]expect a gradual shift towards subscriptions that provide unlimited access to certain preferred providers while charging extra for everything else.”

There’s no shortage of consumers rallying against this:

The changes to the legislation are likely to breeze through as early as next month. However, if it passes there will inevitably be a host of court battles in its near future, so implementation of ISP changes probably won’t come quickly.