How Net Neutrality Affects YouTube

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Updated January 5, 2023

Net neutrality is a subject that often makes rounds in the media cycle, and for a good reason. Since the creation of the internet, concerns over internet equality and consumer privacy have taken center stage. Net neutrality is a hotly debated topic because how politicians handle it affects every website on the internet. Below, we’ll explain how net neutrality affects YouTube, one of the internet’s largest hangout spots.


  • Net neutrality rules were established to guarantee equal rights for websites and the treatment of internet traffic, regardless of size or prominence.
  • Net neutrality was repealed in 2017, allowing internet providers to implement fees to profit from controlling internet traffic and connection speeds.
  • YouTube creators feared the end of net neutrality because it could impede new creators who don’t already have an established following from growing their audiences.

For more information on consumer privacy, we have additional articles covering subjects like net neutrality and Netflix and how net neutrality affects small businesses.

Insider Tip

Certain states have different laws surrounding issues like net neutrality. Look into your state law to see how the issue of net neutrality is handled in your area.

How Does Net Neutrality Affect YouTube?

Most are familiar with the term Net Neutrality but find it hard to explain.

Net neutrality is, in essence, a theory for approaching the internet. With the internet’s release to the masses in the late 1990s, there were immediate conversations about how to keep things fair and broadly equal.

A handful of broadband providers operate the internet. So, if there’s no regulation around how they operate, they could give preferential treatment to those who help them boost profit.

Usually, arguments for net neutrality point out concerns for small businesses, given that internet service provider (ISPs) could place fees around things like internet speed, making it only possible for large websites to afford the internet.

Because of this concern, politicians and special interest groups lobbied to form net neutrality laws to remove the potential of unequal treatment. The first set of sweeping net neutrality regulations came in 2015. However, under the Trump administration in 2018, the FCC repealed these laws, bringing the conversation of unfair treatment back to the spotlight.

YouTube and Net Neutrality

Much of this conversation was around specific platforms, such as YouTube content creators. However, concerns grew that YouTube could end up placing fees around upload, streaming, and video process times.

There was worry that this could allow the large, established YouTube channels the opportunity to push out the smaller, more entrepreneurial, and emerging creators, creating a digital divide.

This issue branches across more than just YouTube; it spreads into all social media and content creation in general. The existential threat is that now, without the guarantee of net neutrality eliminated, smaller streamers may face an even greater uphill battle to reach new audiences and build followings.


Slow load times on web pages or visual content can lower conversion rates.

There are also concerns that this might deter new creators from ever entering the scene, stifling creativity and competition.

Thankfully, the reality of the repeal of net neutrality wasn’t as bad as many thought. However, ISPs or specific websites could choose to monetize things like video loading speed at any moment, which could greatly harm YouTube creators that can’t afford the costs.

STAT: Studies show that internet users expect a webpage to load in under two seconds. (source)

How Net Neutrality Affects YouTube FAQs

Do other countries have net neutrality laws?

Many countries, especially those part of the EU, have strict net neutrality laws, guaranteeing the right to equal treatment from internet service providers.

What is the Open Internet Order?

The Open Interner Order was a set of rules established by the FCC in 2010, which laid the groundwork for future laws around net neutrality.

Is net neutrality ever coming back?

The Biden administration has called on Congress to introduce legislation that would institute net neutrality. However, as of 2022, this has yet to pass through Congress.
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