For months, one of the firmest bases of Trump support online has been the /r/the_donald community on Reddit, a sometimes-embattled community drawn together to cheer on Donald Trump first as a candidate, and now as president. But with the Trump administration making its first moves to roll back FCC privacy restrictions on internet service providers, some in that community are having second thoughts.
“How does this help Americans, ‘the forgotten man?,’” one user asked in a recent post discussing the resolution. “How does this improve the economy? How does it make America great in any way? It's special interest swamp bullshit and Trump signing this would be the first thing he's done as president to disappoint me.”
The thread opened with a reasonable summary of this week’s joint resolution, asking users what they thought of the changes. Despite the forum’s reputation for unruly behavior, the disagreements remained civil, with some supporting the free-market arguments for deregulation, while others saw it as a betrayal of the president’s populist-focused campaign.
Some held out hope that Trump might veto the bill, something analysts see as highly unlikely. “Trump isn't attached to this,” wrote a user called MichiganMaga313. “This bill is Congressional. This bill is dangerous Neo Con bullshit right here. Let Trump know that you hate this and to veto it.”
“Is there any way we can get god emperor and his advisers to veto this?” another asked. “I guess this'll be a test to see if he is a real populist after all.”
Reddit has a long history of mobilizing in response to moves against privacy and net neutrality, most notably in the SOPA fight of 2012. Even as reactionary or anti-feminist movements have gained more power on the platform, those general views have held firm — making Trump’s latest pro-ISP moves particularly awkward for some.
Even users who supported the move saw it as politically dangerous, particularly as President Trump’s popularity reaches record lows. “Internet privacy is the new third rail of politics,” wrote a user called Islam-Delenda-Est. “Taking it away looks worse than Medicare cuts, even if it is completely harmless and justified.”