If it seems like the Internet is slower than usual today, do not adjust your WiFi settings. There is nothing wrong with your connection — at least, not yet.
The “loading” icons appearing today on popular websites such as Reddit and Netflix don’t really mean those sites are slowing down. Instead, they are there as a symbol, foreshadowing a real threat that some of the Web’s biggest names are warning will change the Internet as we know it. It’s part of the Internet Slowdown, a campaign running today to raise awareness about a Federal Communications Commission plan that would effectively end net neutrality, the foundational Internet principle that dictates all traffic must be treated equally by service providers — whether it’s from a blog, a start-up or an established Web giant such as Facebook.
The FCC plan would allow Internet service providers (ISPs) such as Comcast, Verizon and Time Warner to charge websites for the option of delivering content to customers more quickly, creating a tiered system of high-speed priority lanes for companies that pay for it, and slower service for everyone else. Led by online activist group Fight For the Future and backed by companies such as Kickstarter, Netflix and Reddit, the action is timed with the conclusion of the FCC’s public comment period, encouraging Americans to speak out before the deadline on September 15.