A plan by two tech giants to regulate broadband topped the online conversation last week as bloggers roundly criticized Google for seemingly softening its support of network neutrality-the concept of treating all Internet traffic equally across a network.
For the week of August 9-13, 19% of the news links on blogs were about the net neutrality issue, according to the New Media Index from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. The catalyst was an August 10 op-ed in the Washington Post by Google chief executive Eric Schmidt and Verizon chief executive Ivan Seidenberg in which they endorsed net neutrality with one significant exception. Their proposal would allow service providers to limit uploading and downloading on wireless networks.
Initially bloggers dissected the Post piece to make sense of the nine-point plan. Once they concluded that the two companies would support neutrality for wired broadband but not for wireless networks, bloggers accused Google of selling out and violating the company's informal motto, "don't be evil."
Social media users-most of whom operate outside of corporate media-have closely followed the net neutrality debate. The issue first ranked among the most-linked to news stories in blogs (5th at 6% of the links) the week of April 5-9, 2010, following a federal court ruling that threatened net neutrality. And it heated up on Twitter the week of May 3-7, 2010 (4th at 8%) as users shared news of the FCC's response - a revised regulation proposal.
The rest of the top five subjects among bloggers last week all dealt with hot button political or cultural issues.
Read the full report, Net Neutrality and the Mosque Furor Lead the Blogosphere on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.