Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
We inform. You decide.
Thursday, May 23, 2024

Editorial: The Wild West of the Internet is slowly but surely getting settled

On Wednesday, YouTube — or Google; let’s just call it like it is — announced a new ad-free subscription service, Red. Red offers YouTube users the same convenience they experienced in the halcyon days of 2005, before content creators and public relations personnel caught on to how profitable the service really could be.

Although it’s been a long time since the Internet was a truly "wild" or "lawless" place, YouTube hopping on the subscription bandwagon is yet another indicator of the losing battle that’s being fought by Internet users: keeping the Internet free.

The debate over whether the FCC ought to regulate broadband Internet service as a public utility earlier this year served as a sign of the times: Far from the time it was regarded as a niche pastime, the Internet is not only firmly entrenched in our culture, but also in our lives. Although the FCC’s decision to consider the Internet itself a public utility meant net neutrality — the notion that the Internet ought to be equally speedy and provide the same benefits to all without having to pay premiums — remained structurally sound as a principle, it didn’t stop things ON the Internet from being subject to profiteering.

Like everything else man has discovered/created/what-have-you, the insistence on profiting off of the Internet will undoubtedly render it wholly unrecognizable in a few decades. We’re not (entirely) casting judgment on those who have worked the Internet to their wallet’s advantage: After all, subscription services to publications like The New York Times means writers like us still get to enjoy putting food on the table, right? However, we would like to call attention to it, because it seems as though no one notices or appreciates how good they have it at the moment.

Even as legal — and costly — means of accessing content, such as Spotify, Netflix, Hulu and Steam take cultural precedence, BitTorrent websites like The Pirate Bay persist under legal pressure. The prosecution of Kim Dotcom, founder of file-hosting website Megaupload, may portend the future of enjoying "free" content from the Internet.

Determining the degree to which the Internet ought to be monetized and legally regulated is a tricky and multifaceted one. On one hand, ads are awful: They’re annoying, patronizing and are disruptive to enjoying pop culture in any medium (Hulu’s ads, which begin at seemingly random times during television programs, are a particularly egregious offender). On the other hand, given the Internet is our primary source for digesting content, it is patently absurd to believe content generators (read: musicians, artists, journalists) should expect to have all of their work enjoyed for free.

This is a delicate balance for sure, but enticing consumers to pay monthly subscriptions through the promise of no ads simply doesn’t cut the mustard. If Red represents the future of the Internet, we want out.

Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Independent Florida Alligator has been independent of the university since 1971, your donation today could help #SaveStudentNewsrooms. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Independent Florida Alligator and Campus Communications, Inc.