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Controversy Surrounding Ajit Pai

Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters/Newscom

Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters/Newscom

Molly Caldwell, Journalist

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On December 14th,  net neutrality was repealed in a 3-2 vote. Ajit Pai, the FCC chairman, has since received extreme backlash, resulting from controversies such as fake comments and a net neutrality repeal video.

The DJ Baauer and record label behind the song and trend “Harlem Shake” have retaliated against the controversial video  posted on December 4th, 2017. According to Washington Post, the video featured “Federal Communication Commission Chairman Ajit Pai defending the repeal of net neutrality.”  

Harry Rodrigues, better known as Baauer, posted a tweet that revealed that he never gave the FCC chair member permission to use his song in the video. Rodrigues told Billboard Dance, “I want to be clear that it was used completely without my consent or council. My team and I are currently exploring every single avenue available to get it taken down.” He also expressed his support for net neutrality and is “appalled to be associated with its repeal in anyway.”  The FCC has yet to return a request for a comment.

According to Slate, Ajit Pai has been receiving lewd, racist and threatening backlash since April. In May, a popular advocacy group known as Popular Resistance left flyers on Pai’s neighbors’ houses revealing his weight and age.

John Oliver encouraged his fans to oppose Ajit Pai and his values, but soon after, Pai allegedly received multiple death threats. One commenter wrote, “We all have the power to murder Ajit Pai and his family.” Liz Harrington told Fox News, “It’s not really surprising that you have a lot of vulgar, obscene, and downright racist comments when John Oliver himself is calling this campaign go-FCC-yourself.” Both those who fight for net neutrality and those who support its repeal condemn the racist and threatening comments.

An unprecedented amount of comments flooded the FCC website prior to the vote.  Many of the comments appear to be posted by organized groups to sway the voters one way or the other. Many duplicates appeared and several thousand comments were made under the name “John Oliver”. According to the Pew Research Center, “The seven most-prevalent comments to the FCC were submitted more than 500,000 times each, and six opposed net neutrality regulations.” One comment, beginning in “The FCC’s Open Internet Rules (net neutrality rules) are extremely important to me,” was posted 2,803,359 times.  A website has been set up to allow people to determine if their names have been used to post fake comments.

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