December 10, 2016
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Equality Advocates: Come Clean Free Press

ATLANTA- The Alliance for Digital Equality (ADE) is calling on Free Press to explain the true motives behind the 40-page guide reported by The Hill that advocates the manipulation of poor, rural, Southern African Americans and women in order to advance their political agenda.  Although their own research shows the majority of Americans believe the Internet is working, Free Press recently commissioned the study Net Neutrality For the Win:  How Entertainment and the Science of Influence Can Save Your Internet which includes messages, research data, and strategies for convincing targets that the future of the Internet is in jeopardy in order to gain support for Net Neutrality.  ADE demands that Free Press explain their activities. 

"The cynical and demeaning manipulation and stereotyping of poor, rural, minorities and women to advance a political agenda is inexcusable.  And the blatant exploitation of the struggles that minorities face and have overcome as part of the civil rights movement is simply unacceptable," said ADE Chairman Julius H. Hollis.  "Free Press needs to immediately explain their actions and intentions."

The forty-page guide, produced by the Harmony Institute, provides a framework to reach their "target demographics" – which include minorities, poor women and America's Southern, rural poor – and bring them around to supporting Network Neutrality.  Free Press' own research shows that the majority of Americans believe the Internet is working, so the guide hinges on the perception of a threatened Internet – advocating tactics that depend not on education or information, but "behavioral science models," psychological techniques, entertainment, fictionalized storytelling, and "behavior change through narrative entertainment."

The guide identifies core supporters on the Net Neutrality issue as young, affluent, educated Caucasians – largely due to the group's heavy use of and easy access to broadband which makes them highly responsive to perceived threats to the Internet.  It identifies poor, rural African Americans and women as "persuadable" and thus the primary targets for Net Neutrality messaging.

"The groups that Free Press is targeting are the very people that we at ADE represent, so we are taking this matter very seriously," continued Hollis.  "Free Press' research shows that connectivity is the top concern for this constituency, yet their guide does not include even one proposal for getting more people online.  Instead, the problems of the digital divide are presented as opportunities to be exploited using psychological manipulation and invoking imagery associated with the struggle for civil rights.  This is not just some political game – these are real people with real concerns.  Free Press has crossed the line here and we need answers immediately."

About The Alliance for Digital Equality

The Alliance for Digital Equality (ADE) is a non-profit consumer advocacy organization that serves to facilitate and ensure equal access to technology in underserved and un-served communities.  The Alliance also serves as a bridge between policymakers and minority individuals in order to help the public understand how legislative and regulatory policies regarding new technologies can impact and empower their daily lives.  For more information on The Alliance for Digital Equality, please visitwww.alliancefordigitalequality.org.



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