Net Neutrality and the Whopper

In December 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed the net neutrality rules that guided businesses providing Internet access. The revised ruling potentially allows Internet Service Providers (ISP) to charge different rates for different Internet speeds and services. In essence, ISPs can charge customers more to get faster Internet speeds. And, customers who pay less would receive slower Internet speeds.

Unfortunately, net neutrality can be complicated to explain and is not always fully understood by many consumers. Enter: Burger King, using a Whopper to help explain how net neutrality works.

Whoppers? Those aren’t very technical. No, but they are a product that consumers expect to receive quickly (no matter what the price is). What would happen if a customer had to pay more to get a Whopper quickly? Or, as Burger King explains, what is the mpbs* for the service, and how much is a customer willing to pay for it (*Making Burgers per Second)?

Burger King set up a hidden camera at a restaurant location and watched how real customers reacted to having to wait longer for their burgers as employees deliberately slowed down their services. Customers could choose from slow mbps ($4.99/Whopper), fast mbps ($12.99), or hyper-fast mbps ($25.99). The results were hysterical, and revealing.

How much are you willing to pay for your Whopper (and Internet access)? The video clearly hit home with customers and went viral, racking up nearly 16 million views in less than a week!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Start by asking students to define net neutrality.
  2. Ask them about the recent FCC decision on net neutrality?
  3. What are student opinions about it? For or against, and why?
  4. Show the Burger King video:

https://youtu.be/ltzy5vRmN8Q

  1. After viewing the video, did anyone change their opinion?
  2. In teams, have students determine other topics that are difficult to explain and comprehend. (Ex: tariffs, quotas, etc.)
  3. Have each team develop an explanation using metaphors (such as Burger King did) to help consumers understand the implications of these complicated topics.

Source:  Nudd, T. (24 Jan., 2018). Burger King deviously explains net neutrality by making people wait longer for their Whoppers. Ad Week.

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