clock menu more-arrow no yes

That time I started a war between Netflix and Verizon

I was waiting for Sherlock.

I had about four hours until the third season was available. Bored, up late, on the internet, poking around Netflix, I decided to watch an episode of Continuum.

Per usual, I saw the buffering screen, but this time there was an extra message: "The Verizon network is crowded right now. Adjusting video for smoother playback."

I thought, "That’s interesting; I’ll take a screenshot and upload to Twitter."

This seems to have angered a lot of people.

There were a few responses at first asking about my setup (Mac/Chrome, Verizon FIOS WiFi router). A reporter from Re/code reached out, asking for permission to use the photo. Someone retweeted me with the comment "Spoken like a true snarky little entitled brat."

A couple people tweeted that my screenshot was Photoshopped. I didn’t respond. It wasn’t.

I watched half of the third season of Sherlock, went to bed and didn’t really think about the tweet.

By the next morning, there were nearly 100 retweets. My name showed up in dozens of news outlets like The Verge (I work for its parent company, Vox Media), Quartz, Ars Technica, my old haunt The Washington Post, and The New York Times, the only other outlet who contacted me directly.

Now, two days later, I’ve been named in a cease and desist letter from Verizon to Netflix. My name is in a cease and desist letter based on a screenshot in a tweet about watching TV. Oh snap.

Someone in Slack asked if this was going to be my legacy. "Oh hey, you're the Netflix buffering guy."

Another person said, "You took a screenshot and saved net neutrality."

I didn’t mean to wade into a debate on net neutrality or on the state of the telecommunication industry. I’m not an expert in how routing works. I'll leave that to my colleague Timothy B. Lee who wrote: Yes, poor Netflix performance is Verizon's fault.

I'm not blaming anyone. I generally am happy with Verizon FIOS and I friggin’ love Netflix.

I am going to watch the end of Sherlock later. I won’t be tweeting.

Yuri Victor is the senior user experience designer at Vox Media.