Verizon responds to Netflix’s passive-aggressive error message with straight-up aggression


(Netflix via Yuri Victor)

On Tuesday, some Netflix users on Verizon began seeing a curious error message that explicitly blamed the Internet provider for laggy connections.

"The Verizon network is crowded right now," the message read. "Adjusting video for smoother playback…"

Unlike before, when Netflix subscribers would've been left scratching their heads as to why "House of Cards" was taking so long to load, this particular message now cleverly deflects customer ire onto the ISP.

Now Verizon has fired back at Netflix, accusing the company of engaging in a "PR stunt." In a blog post, Verizon defended itself by saying the sluggishness has nothing to do with Verizon's own network and everything to do with how Netflix carries traffic to Verizon's doorstep.

"It would be more accurate for Netflix's message screen to say: 'The path that we have chosen to reach Verizon's network is crowded right now,'" the blog post read.

Of course, until federal regulations mandating greater transparency in the broadband industry take effect, we can't know for sure who's really to blame. All we have to go on are two companies' claims. To which we say:

michael jackson

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post, focusing on telecommunications and the Internet. Before joining the Post, he was the technology correspondent for National Journal and an associate editor at the Atlantic.

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Brian Fung · June 4, 2014