The Dancing Queen Theresa May

The new queen of the dance floor Theresa May – Can’t help but wonder why?

PR is your answer. It’s all PR!

Mamma Mia! The prime ministers dancing AGAIN! When I saw the video of Theresa May dancing her way onto the stage at a Tory conference to Abba’s popular hit Dancing Queen I cringed for my life. It was incredibly awkward to watch and all I could think was…WHY is she doing that? I’m sure I wasn’t the only one stuck for words, but I knew she wasn’t dancing (if we can even call it that) because she felt like it.

On numerous occasions people have asked me what I’m studying at University and when I tell them PR, they always ask, ‘What is PR?’ and ‘Is that them people standing on the streets on holidays handin’ out leaflets?’ For those of you that don’t know, PR is short for Public Relations. The Chartered Institute of Public relations (CIPR) define PR as creating or managing the reputation of a company or a person and their publics (like their audience and employees etc). PR is not only powerful in the world of businesses and entrepreneurs, but it can also be extremely effective for groups and public figures when it’s done right.

An example of an effective and very successful PR campaign is Lacoste’s ‘Save our species’ campaign, where they partnered with UCN (Union for Conservation of Nature) to raise awareness on the condition of endangered animals. Lacoste changed their logo from the popular crocodile to 10 endangered species on limited-edition polo shirts with proceeds going directly to the preservation of the chosen species. This campaign was a simple, yet effective idea that helped raise awareness and money for a great cause but also increase brand engagement.

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PR is all about reputation and in this case Theresa May’s reputation. It’s about what you do and what you say and Mrs May went all out and tried to ‘bust a move’ (and that she did). This wasn’t the first time Mrs May was seen dancing. During her trip to Africa she enjoyed a little ‘boogie’ as she was greeted by kids singing and dancing. Theresa May’s performance was not accidental on any occasion, each performance was strategically planned to suit the visit, her actions and her words.  It certainly wasn’t a spur of the moment, it was done for Theresa May’s reputation and with the intent to make her ‘seem’ more fun, approachable, down to earth and let’s not forget to help people remember the event! It may seem as though the ‘dancing’ was to make her look silly (which it did), however her appearances became more memorable because of the dancing and as a result of this they received a lot of media attention. It’s a win win for Theresa May and her PR team.

Throughout Theresa May’s public appearances and negotiations for a Brexit deal the public are feeling insecure, confused and increasingly worried about the decisions being made for them. The future of borders, trading for businesses and heading off on your holidays without any trouble lies in the hands of the Prime Minister, so no one can blame us for being worried.

Why did Theresa May’s PR team make her dance? – Perhaps we can assume it was to impress the public or maybe she wanted to express her love for ABBA? Who knows? Although, we can be sure it wasn’t because she’s a talented dancer. We can only wonder where some of the PR ideas come out of, but whether the decision is a good move or a bad move it’s still publicity and the public will always have something to say. Perhaps the dancing wasn’t such a great idea, especially with Brexit being such a sensitive issue and the public could think she’s making a joke out of it all. Or maybe the fact that she can’t dance makes her relatable and flawed just like everyone else. Regardless of the public reactions, we all know the saying – ‘There’s no such thing as bad publicity!’

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Whether Theresa May’s PR team got the reaction they had hoped for or not, it’s working! It’s going viral, and yes people are making memes out of the video. Yes, it seems as though people are mocking her, but becoming a meme is basically giving her a celebrity status for our generation. Her actions are receiving a lot media attention and getting people talking which means they’re engaged and waiting for the next big thing. I can only assume that something big is coming once this fizzles out because Theresa May and her PR team have the public right where they want them!

PR can be a well thought out, long winded process but it can also be something that happens in the moment and might I remind you a very powerful one! Therefore, suffering through Theresa May’s awful dance moves has taught me two things. Firstly, I am not as bad of a dancer (thank God). Secondly, PR is a wonderful tool used by even the Prime Minister to try and get the publics attention, so if the Prime Minister can utilise it, why can’t we?

 

Kerrieann Curran is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Twitter – @KerrieannCurran ; Linkedin – http://linkedin.com/in/kerrieann-curran-765420137

Bordering on Insanity…

Bordering on Insanity…

The four-month countdown begins until Britain officially leaves the European Union. But you already knew that and as the saying goes “time flies when you’re having fun!”. At this stage of the game most people are sick to death of hearing about the Irish border (I know I am), whether it will be a hard border, a soft border or something in between. As a young girl living on the border between the North and South of Ireland, I dread the thought of potentially having to bring my passport along just to do a spot of shopping in Penney’s, what a catastrophe!

AS1Let me throw some fascinating facts your way before we get in to the nitty gritty -when I look out my window I can see the Omeath Road. To the naked eye, there is no obvious borderline. There aren’t any obvious physical differences either, no markings, just speed signs in kilometres per hour; and the grass doesn’t appear to be any greener on the other side. For me to get to Omeath or even the gorgeous Carlingford (Ireland’s own Gold Coast or as we know it the “Cooley Peninsula” which is also famous for its oyster farms and medieval buildings) it takes 11 minutes, that’s just 7 miles.

All joking aside, it’s clear that the so called “Government” don’t know what to do with the Irish border. Neither does Michel Barnier. Theresa May is feeling the pressure from her own party, the DUP and everyone else – each response is usually along the lines of “the common travel area has been around since the early nineteen twenties so we don’t want to change that”.

We are stuck right bang in the middle of this regardless if you are from the North or the South and it will affect everyone. Many of you reading this were probably very young when the Good Friday Agreement (1998) was signed, some of you might remember the peace it brought to the Island of Ireland, after years of violence.  One thing is for sure, no one wants a return to violence especially students like us, who were born in good times!

The stability of Ireland now depends on whether the United Kingdom and the EU can negotiate a future trading relationship. However, this ultimately is where the problems start to arise. If the UK decides to leave the single market and the customs union, we’re sort of in a pickle. Basically, we’ll be taking a step backward and potentially re-introducing border checks, and paying additional custom charges on our ASOS purchases, to name but a few. Mrs May and various UK politicians have promised all along that there will be no hard border,‘no physical infrastructure at the Irish border’. This sounds fantastic but what we all want to know is how?

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Honestly, I have no solution myself to this contentious issue or what sort of border should be put in place. I am quite happy with how things are now – a trip to Omeath for petrol, a trip to Aldi in Dundalk or just the freedom of movement the border community in Newry enjoy. However, the harsh reality is that it’s going to have to change. Famous for our sense of humour in Northern Ireland, we try our hardest to make light of the situation in spite of the severity of Brexit and the potential supply issues for medicines, food etc.  Some people have suggested everything from an electronic border, to drones, and even to painting the border.

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(What about the suggested border in the sea, looks a bit ludicrous right?)

One of my all-time favourite suggestions is to allow Northern Ireland to enter the Eurovision. We could write a song about the Good Friday Agreement and pull on everyone’s emotions. Right now you are probably thinking “this girl has actually lost it”, I agree! But my blog is about “bordering on insanity” – so it only seems right that I go slightly insane whilst writing about it.

In all seriousness though, it might just help the British Government understand why we really cannot go back to the old days! Nobody wants to bring back thirty years of border checkpoints, customs clearance, violence and smuggling.

As it stands there has still been no agreement made, all I can say is that Brexit is good at winging it. To use the words of the Madonna song, “Borderline, feels like I am going to lose my mind………”

 

Alannah Stephens is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter @AlannahStephens and on  Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/alannah-stephens-ab1525127/ 

Zuck Goes to Washington

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, testified before Congress on the 10th and 11th of April, amid the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, where it was found that more than 87 million Americans’ personal data were sold and misused for advertising purposes.

The five-hour-long sessions, where the members of the Senates’ and the Houses’ Committee grilled Zuckerberg, however, seemed to serve as an excellent opportunity for Senators, Congresswomen and Congressmen for some good ole political PR.

Each Senator had five minutes, Congresswoman and Congressman four minutes, to question Zuckerberg in the widely-broadcasted hearing. Due to the time constraints, no real probing and questioning could take place, so several members used the time available to them to appeal to their constituents and stakeholders instead. And frankly, time wasn’t the only limitation, as many of the questions also revealed the unfortunate fact, that a large number of the politicians don’t quite know how digital platforms work.

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The ‘invest in my constituency

Some members of the Committee brought up a strangely timed request for Zuckerberg and Facebook to support broadband coverage for rural areas in their constituencies – and by some, I mean at least four members.

Senator Capito of West Virginia: “My state, I’m from West Virginia, and thank you for visiting and next time you visit, if you would please bring some fiber because we don’t have connectivity in — in our rural areas like we really need, and Facebook could really help us with that.

Congressman Cramer of North Dakota directly asked Zuckerberg to consider investing in his district “Let me suggest that you look someplace perhaps in the middle of the North American continent for some people, maybe even your next big investment of — of capital could be in — in some place like, say, Bismarck, North Dakota.

The ‘I’m doing all the work

Others took a different approach and spoke about pieces of legislation they have worked on in the past or are working on at the moment to highlight their personal achievements and push their own agenda into the spotlight.

Here’s an example from Congressman Pallone of New Jersey: “Now, Congresswoman Schakowsky from Illinois and I introduced a bill last year that would require companies to implement baseline data security standards. And I plan to work with my colleagues to draft additional legislation.

Another example from Congresswoman Blackburn of Tennessee: “And you’re hearing there’ll be more bills brought out in the next few weeks. But we have had a bill. The BROWSER Act, and I’m certain that you’re familiar with this, is bipartisan.

Followed up by Congressman Lance of New Jersey: “Congresswoman Blackburn has mentioned her legislation. I’m a co-sponsor of the BROWSER legislation. I commend it to your attention, to the attention of your company. It is for the entire ecosystem. It is for ISPs and edge providers. It is not just for one or the other.

Clearly, Zuckerberg did not provide a straight answer to whether he would support any legislation, he avoided the question by answering along these lines: “in general, I think that that principle is exactly right. And I think we should have a — a discussion around how to best apply that”. At times, the viewer might have been confused whether it was a hearing or whether the members of Congress were competing for Zuckerberg’s attention and approval of their piece of legislation.

The ‘publicity stunt

Others took a completely different approach again and went for something that would grant them coverage.

Like Senator Durbin of Illinois, who seemed to be the first person to take Zuckerberg by surprise as he asked “Mr. Zuckerberg, would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night? You could just see Zuckerberg’s mind trying so hard to work out what he was getting at before responding with a “No”. And it worked – this became one of the most picked up parts of the hearing.

But Senator Cruz’ (Texas) questioning was, without a doubt, the most memorable of all, as Cruz came hard for Zuckerberg, accusing Facebook of engaging in “a pervasive pattern of bias and political censorship”, suggesting that right-leaning users’ content gets censored because of the political bias of Facebook’s staff. Needless to say, Cruz became the Republicans’ hero of the day.

Props also seemed to be a popular tool in attracting some attention. Large printed images (yep, Diamond and Silk), infographics, Congressman Duncan of South Carolina even brought a copy of the Constitution that he gave to Zuckerberg at the end of the hearing – an excellent photo op.

Zuck’s pre-packaged image

Now let’s have a quick look at Facebook’s CEO’s performance. Zuckerberg kept repeating a few obviously rehearsed and carefully drafted statements, which were aimed to reframe Facebook’s image from an international corporation to a dorm room start-up that somehow got too big.SB2

What he said:

“The average American, I think, uses about eight different communication and social network apps to stay connected to people.

What he really said:

We’re not a monopoly.

What he said:

“So, from the beginning of the company in 2004 — I started in my dorm room; it was me and my roommate.

“I believe, to start a company in your dorm room and then grow it to be at the scale that we’re at now without making some mistakes.

“The history of how we got here is we started off in my dorm room with not a lot of resources.

What he really said:

We don’t want to be perceived as a large corporation, even though we are. We want you to think we don’t really know what we’re doing so you can’t blame us for making mistakes.

What he said:

I don’t come to Washington, D.C., too often. I’m going to direct my team to focus on this.

What he really said:

I’m only here because you made me, but that’s all you can expect from me.

What he said:

“My top priority has always been our social mission of connecting people, building community and bringing the world closer together.

What he really said:

We want you to think that we don’t even care about money – it’s all about the people.

What he said:

I’m not the type of person who thinks that there should be no regulation, especially because the Internet is getting to be so important in people’s lives around the world. But I think the details on this really matter.

What he really said:

We want regulation that won’t really limit us, but will keep up the perception that we are being socially responsible.

Will the Cambridge Analytica scandal really hurt Facebook? We’re yet to see. Everyone expected Zuckerberg to be sweating in the hot seat, but he got away fairly easily. He apologized for making a mistake, played the victim card well, but made no concrete promises or commitments. Zuckerberg vs. Washington, 2:0.

Silvia Bajlova is an MSc Communications and Public Relations student at Ulster University. You can follow her on Twitter and contact her on LinkedIn.

Donald Trump- PR mess or PR genius

It’s been over a year since Donald Trump became the most powerful man in the world and the 45th president of the United States. Do you remember what you were doing that very day and hour he won? I remember I sat up that whole night watching the results come in flicking between CNN and Fox news. I along with all the Hollywood stars though America would vote in Hilary Clinton but gosh weren’t Katy Perry and I wrong. In a year where Brexit won the vote it was silly looking back to think Donald Trump wouldn’t become president.

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Throughout Donald Trump’s campaign and even now not an hour goes by without a headline or some sort of uproar about something President Donald Trump has said or tweeted. No time in history has public opinion or the media been as widespread and ongoing since ‘the Donald’ announced he was running for president all those years ago. Half a decade ago Donald Trump wasn’t really a name which people mentioned here in Northern Ireland and I’m sure it wasn’t mentioned much in any other part of the world. Back then all Donald trump was known for was the U.S apprentice (he was no Sir Alan Sugar) and for owning most of New York and Manhattan. Back then I didn’t even follow him on twitter or ever even consider following him on twitter. Nowadays, he is usually one of the most trending hashtags or something related to what he has said or done is trending. Not going to lie, but one of the best decisions I made in 2015 was following Donald Trump on twitter. L5
Donald Trump has definitely rewritten the rules on messaging and communication. From a PR perspective (or well a final year PR students perspective), some would say Trump’s approach or lack of has been a horror show (possibly similar to the shinning) from his incorrect messaging to his attacks on people (remember when he was team Robert Pattinson after his breakup with Kristen Stewart) to now his attacks against the media and their ‘fake news’. It’s fair to say Donald trump has made himself a poster boy for how not to communicate to the public… or has he?

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It’s very easy to see Donald Trump’s tweets or on television and think he doesn’t know anything about communicating or Public relations but maybe just maybe he has rewritten public relations? Stay with me here…

Public relations is the professional maintenance of a favourable public image by a company or other organisation’s or individuals. Donald Trump doesn’t get much positive interactions, usually people’s public relations strategies is to gain positive interactions and dismiss backlash. However, Donald Trump’s public relations strategy is the exact opposite even now a year later after he has won the white house. Trump’s immediate off the cuff responses to the Middle East, china, the latest SNL skits, fake news or repealing Obamacare is his main strategies.

Some people believe he has thrown away the traditional pillars of talking points, messaging, communicating and replacing them with no-holds-barred dialogue. Donald trump choosing to do this means no matter if you are a democrat or republican or a member of the green party you are giving him visibility.
Trump’s approach is to raise any issue no matter what time of the day it is even if tis 3am in the morning on twitter.

Even though many hate to admit it, this strategy of Donald Trump’s is working and it is working very very well. Throughout his presidency and probably long after he will continue to have control of the topics and issues he wants on the agenda for that day.

This approach to taking over the white house has been to keep the audience tuned in and on the edge of their seats, keeping us all guessing what next will Donald Trump say.

Who would have thought Donald Trump could possibly change Public Relations? But then again suppose we never believed he would actually become president? Who’s ready for Kanye west or Dwayne Johnson (the Rock) presidency race for 2020…. L1

Lena Coyle is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @Lena_coyle

Syria: A Bleeding Country

Since 2011, more than 11 million people have been affected by the civil war in Syria and it is now the biggest humanitarian crisis this century has ever seen.

Before civil war broke out in Syria 6 years ago, it was already a country on its knees.  With high unemployment, widespread corruption and state repression under President Bashar al-Assad, it was only a matter of time before an uprising would occur.

It was only in October that two men attacked a police station in the Syrian Capital of Damascus where their double bomb attack killed 17 people.  These people have now been added to the estimated 475,000 already dead.  Attacks like this happen on a daily basis and the death toll rises every hour of every day.  This country is bleeding dead bodies.

Naturally, the effects of this bloodshed, endless fighting and fierce violence have been felt not only within Syria but across Europe.  ‘The Syrian Refugee Crisis’ is an issue surrounding the millions people who have fled Syria since 2011.  This country is also bleeding vulnerable yet hopeful refugees.

But what is your true opinion of ‘The Refugee Crisis’?  Is it a crisis that is being ignored by the public and politicians?  Have people’s opinions been decided or influenced by media and politics?  Is it selfish that some people do not want refugees in our country to live and work?  Or should it be that society unites and strives to help these hopeful refugees?

In September 2015, the image of 3 year old Alan Kurdi’s lifeless body, washed up on a Turkish beach changed the world. It was this one image which impacted public and political opinion so much that it was only then that the West woke to the urgency of the Syrian Refugee Crisis – 4 years after it had begun.

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Alan Kurdi’s lifeless body washes up on a beach in Turkey

Public concern was marked by the immense social media campaigns which followed as ‘#RefugeesWelcome’ was used at least 20 million times the following year.

Weeks after this image went viral, the British government announced that 20,000 Syrians would be resettled within the UK by 2020 and so far 6,000 have been.

Recently, I began watching Educating Greater Manchester; a channel 4 documentary which each week focuses on issues and stories that surround everyday school life from teachers, pupils and parents’ points of view.  Cue the ‘terrible teens’, oversized tie knots, untucked school shirts and a whole lot of shouting (not just from teachers).

Episode one delved straight into the adjustments that staff and pupils in school faced due to the large influx of foreign pupils.  It focused on the challenges which the modern, multicultural school faced when Syrian refugees – who often spoke little English, joined the vast array of existing pupils and staff.

For me, Rani’s story made the episode an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish as we saw how he attempted to navigate his way through a new school life in Greater Manchester.  A language barrier saw the 11 year old placed into a remedial class where he had the opportunity to learn English and attempted to make friends.  In this heart-warming class, Rani explained to his new classmates and teachers where he was from and how sometimes he would see people being shot dead on his way to his old school in Syria.

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However, it was the genuinely moving tale of the blossoming friendship between Rani and local lad Jack which captured mine and the nations hearts as they vowed to stay friends for life.  There was a lip-wobbling moment when Rani graduated from his remedial class into mainstream lessons and could sit next to new pal Jack.  Jack explained when he realised Rani was struggling to settle in, “I can see it’s difficult for him because he can’t bond with other people.”  But by the time the hour long episode was over the pair were ‘brothers’ and Rani had made a best friend for life.  Rani explained, “He is not like a friend, I think he is a brother”.

 

Despite the delight I felt for Rani, this episode still highlighted the struggles which another Syrian pupil named Murad met within the multicultural school as he came face to face with ‘Islamophobia’.  Murad confronted hurtful and upsetting comments from his peers who hurled playground insults at him, comparing him to a terrorist and Osama Bin Laden.  This emphasised the huge challenges which refugees are so often subjected to and unfortunately abuse like this is hugely popular inside and outside of school for refugees of every age.

This programme proved that schools in particular are playing a vital role within society to not only help young refugees but also educate the British public about the blight which refugees have faced and the challenges they meet in attempting to make a better life for themselves.  Teachers and pupils alike in this programme are not ignoring the crisis but are instead helping to develop pupils – who have come as refugees, into happy, well-educated, confident young people.  Subsequently, we as the viewing public can take lessons of our own away from Jack and Rani’s friendship as they proved how easy it is to accept others into our society, no matter where they are from, what religion they follow, what colour their skin is or what language they speak.

Lauren Hill is a Final Year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations at Ulster University.  She can be contacted on LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/lauren-hill-a7807a151/

 

JFK’s Bunratty Girls

Bunratty Castle was built in 1425 by the Earl of Thomond. The Earl had a tradition of hospitality, and since 1963 that tradition has been carried on through the many Bunratty Medieval Banquets held every year in the castle. The Banquets have welcomed guests from across the world to dine in medieval style and enjoy the classical Irish music as performed by the Bunratty singers – who have been described as “Ireland’s foremost cultural ambassadors” and the “Riverdance of their day.” But one significant fan of the Bunratty singers was none other than John F. Kennedy himself, President of the United States.

My grandmother, Una Wallace, was a classically trained singer and part of the original group of Bunratty Singers of 1963 whose travels included three tours of the East and West coasts of USA. In the Summer of 1963, they found themselves in the extraordinary position of being on-board an Airforce One helicopter from Shannon to Dublin to sing for US President John F. Kennedy at the American Embassy. Kennedy was the most powerful man in the world and an icon admired by many, and the opportunity of singing for him was an unbelievable experience for eight humble women from all over Ireland.

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The Bunratty Castle singers meeting David Power (left) and Ambassador McCloskey (right)

My grandmother remembers the day to be “absolutely amazing”. Kennedy was so impressed with the performance that he requested for the Bunratty singers to come to the White House to sing. Nanny describes meeting David Power, special aide to Kennedy: “he was a lovely man and he arranged for us to visit Washington to sing at the White House for President Kennedy.” Kennedy asked if the girls would also perform at Shannon Airport before his departure home, which of course they did. “We sang for him again at Shannon and as he was leaving, he turned around and looked at us and said, “there’s my girls” – he was just lovely, really lovely”, my grandmother reminisced.

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President Kennedy, Eunice Kennedy Shriver and my grandmother, Una (in the green) at Shannon Airport

Unfortunately, before the Bunratty Singers got to visit Washington President Kennedy had been assassinated. They were taken to the White House and met the new President Johnson, but “it was so sad that he [Kennedy] wasn’t there” nanny said, “still, going into the oval office was something special.” My grandmother sat in the President’s chair at his desk in the oval office as she posed for a photograph with the rest of the singers. “The first thing Dave Power said was to take a look at the book on the desk – it was a photograph album of Kennedy’s and we were in it, a picture taken when he visited Ireland. We couldn’t believe it!” she told me, “It was such an honour to have met him, I have always cherished the memories.”

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My grandmother pictured in the President’s chair in the Oval Office, with the Bunratty girls and David Power

In June 1967 Jackie Kennedy, the late President’s wife, and her two children Caroline and John came to Ireland. During their holiday they visited Bunratty Castle and the Bunratty singers where a special banquet was held. “The children curtseyed when they came in, they must have thought this is what you should do!” my grandmother joked. The Bunratty girls performed for Jackie, and when they were finished she requested that they sing ‘Danny Boy’, which was one of the songs they had sang for President Kennedy. Nanny explained, “We wouldn’t have usually sang ‘Danny Boy’ in the castle as it would have been too ‘pop’, but we sang it anyway and I remember singing my heart out thinking that Jackie was thinking about her late husband. But when we had finished and she was walking out past us she spoke to us in her soft whispered voice and said, “that was lovely – Caroline has a pony called Danny Boy!” and I realised I was singing for a flippin’ horse!”

 

Emma McVeigh is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. You can contact her on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/emma-mcveigh-611462a4/ or on Twitter @emmamcveigh_

The repeal of Net Neutrality – is America okay?

It’s not exactly new information that since Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States, America hasn’t really improved as a nation, despite Trump’s presidential campaign slogan ‘make American great again.’ The majority of the decisions he’s made since winning the election has outraged most of the country, like his decision to ban transgender troops, or the travel ban he enforced just one week after his inauguration.

However, the most recent nation-wide dilemma, – the plan to repeal Obama-era net neutrality protections – even has Trump supporters up in arms, probably because this is the first major decision under Trump’s rule that is actually going to affect all of them.

Net neutrality demands that all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should treat all web traffic the same, and should enable access to all content and applications, regardless of the source, and without favouring or blocking specific products or websites.

Without net neutrality, ISPs will no longer have to treat all internet traffic equally, and will be able to favour certain websites and services over others.

Think of Internet traffic like actual traffic, without net neutrality, ISPs like BT and Verizon can develop literal fast and slow lanes. One certain ISP could have the power to slow down its competitors’ content, or block specific political opinions or beliefs that it disagrees with, and in turn could charge extra fees to the very few content companies that could afford to pay for special treatment, which will degrade everyone else to a slower tier of service. The repeal of net neutrality would destroy the open internet.

On Thursday 14th December 2017, Trump’s Republican-led Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to approve this controversial plan of repealing net-neutrality.

Of course, no one, other than the FCC know what this repeal of net neutrality actually means for users of the Internet, although some people have made their predictions.

The most likely of outcomes, is that the prices the public pay for their Internet will go up, but variety and diversity of accessible web pages will go down and the largest, most well-known of Internet companies will gain a significant advantage over small, upstart companies. As a consumer, the end of net neutrality means your most-used and favourite websites are going to load a lot more slowly, and some of your favourite content may just go away, because your provider can’t pay the fee. The consumer will no longer be in control, the ISP will start to pick the winners and losers instead of the Internet user themselves.

Andrew Leonard used this example in an online article on rollingstone.com: “Let’s say you’re a regular user of Amazon, eBay and Etsy. Currently, you’ve got all those apps on your phone and laptop and they all work perfectly. The pages load fast, and orders go through right away. But you get your service through Verizon, and now, with no net neutrality, Verizon is capable of saying to all three online retailers: ‘hey, if you want to be in the fast lane of the Internet, you have to pay for our premium package’. Amazon and eBay, the two more established and larger online companies can afford to do this, but Esty, as a smaller upstarter company, unfortunately cannot, meaning Etsy will from now on, be in the slow lane, and the next time you want to search for a “Save Net Neutrality” t-shirt to wear to your next protest, the page takes absolutely forever to load.”

But that’s not all. Under the new rules, ISPs won’t just be free to charge more for faster access, they’ll be completely free to simply block access to whatever part of the Internet they feel serves their financial interest. Comcast, for example, may decide that it makes no sense to allow Netflix to compete with its own streaming service and stop allowing its users access to the site.

Right now, it seems to be the end of the Internet as Americans know it. But a legal effort to overturn the decision made by Trump’s FCC is expected to begin immediately. Congress has the power to pass legislation to restore net neutrality, and this could mean greater turn out in the 2018 midterm elections from millennials who care deeply about this issue. Around 18 states also plan on suing the FCC in order to defend net neutrality protections, including New York, California, North Carolina and Virginia.

Hollie Thomson is a final year BSc student in Communication Management and Public Relations. She can be found on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/holliethomson/ or Facebook: Hollie Thomson