Public Comments to the Federal Communications Commission About Net Neutrality Contain Many Inaccuracies and Duplicates
Network neutrality regulations underpin the digital lives of many Americans, yet it is challenging to survey the public on such an inherently complex and technical subject. For this reason, Pew Research Center set out to analyze the opinions of those who had taken the time to submit their thoughts to the Federal Communications Commission. Among the most notable findings:
Many submissions seemed to include false or misleading personal information: Some 57% of the comments utilized either duplicate email addresses or temporary email addresses created with the intention of being used for a short period of time and then discarded. In addition, many individual names appeared thousands of times in the submissions. As a result, it is often difficult to determine if any given comment came from a specific citizen or from an unknown person (or entity) submitting multiple comments using unverified names and email addresses.
There is clear evidence of organized campaigns to flood the comments with repeated messages: Of the 21.7 million comments posted, 6% were unique. The other 94% were submitted multiple times – in some cases, hundreds of thousands of times. In fact, the seven most-submitted comments (six of which argued against net neutrality regulations) comprise 38% of all the submissions over the four-month comment period.
Often, thousands of comments were submitted at precisely the same moment: On nine different occasions, more than 75,000 comments were submitted at the very same second – often including identical or highly similar comments. Three of these nine instances featured variations of a popular pro-net-neutrality message, while the others promoted several different anti-net-neutrality statements.
Public Comments to the Federal Communications Commission About Net Neutrality Contain Many Inaccuracies and Duplicates Net neutrality comments mostly came from bots and fake email addresses, Pew finds (USA Today) Pew Finds Millions of Issues with Net Neutrality Comments (B&C)