Score Another One for the Internet? The Role of the Networked Public Sphere in the U.S. Net Neutrality Policy Debate"

December 06, 2016 by Robert Faris, Hal Roberts, Bruce Etling, Dalia Othman, Yochai Benkler

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In this paper we study the public debate over net neutrality in the United States from January through November 2014. We compiled, mapped, and analyzed over 16,000 stories published on net neutrality, augmented by data from Twitter,, and Google Trends. Using a mixed-methods approach that combines link analysis with qualitative content analysis, we describe the evolution of the debate over time and assess the role, reach, and influence of different media sources and advocacy groups in setting the agenda, framing the debate, and mobilizing collective action. We conclude that a diverse set of actors working in conjunction through the networked public sphere played a central, arguably decisive, role in turning around the Federal Communications Commission policy on net neutrality.