If you haven’t heard the about Verizon turning down NARAL’s plan to send text messages already, here’s the New York Times story. (UPDATE: It was a decison almost immediately reversed.)
I'm actually a Verizon customer for my landline and I'm already debating what I can do to send a message to the company. Maybe I should switch carriers. Do I even want to use the services of a company is just so bone-headed about business? This move on their part, which I'm sure someone thought was going to be less controversial, rather than more, is going to bring a ton of bring them a lot of bad PR and lose them income, both from turning down the campaign and from former subscribers like me. Way to go Verizon!
Anyway two things jumped out at me from the Times article.
One, this really explains what Net Neutrality is in a way that millions of people can understand and appreciate. That’s no small feat considering it’s a pretty complicated issue.
And also, I hope people don’t just dismiss this as a typical “pro-choice/anti-abortion” fight where everyone lines up on either Verizon’s or NARAL’s side depending upon how you feel about abortion. Because this is wrong no matter who Verizon turned down, whether it was the National Rifle Association or Focus on the Family. It’s not like the phone company should have the right to deny an organization a phone line because they don’t like their politics and it’s the same with text messaging. Hence the term “net neutrality” because the carrier shouldn’t get to control content.
Second, this paragraph jumped out at me:
Most of the candidates and advocacy groups that use text message programs are liberal, which may reflect the demographics of the technology’s users and developers. A spokeswoman for the National Right to Life Committee, which is in some ways Naral’s anti-abortion counterpart, said, for instance, that its has not dabbled in text messaging.Now why is that? Is it that they have thought about it but thought it wasn’t worth the expense or effort? Was it they thought their supporters didn’t know or wouldn’t use the technology?
I do think progressives usually are first-movers on technological innovations, occasionally at the expense of older, more proven political organizing. (Sometimes newer isn’t better, or isn’t better…just yet.) However I don’t think NARAL is going to always have this advantage. Right To Life will probably adopt text messaging soon and I’m sure someone can point to me a technological-sophisticated messaging strategy used by conservative groups (not strategists…members.) We may have first-mover advantage but the thing about politics is that groups learn to adopt new strategies from successively rivals.