As you have probably noticed, Wikipedia was inaccessible today as a part of mass online protest against SOPA, short for The Stop Online Piracy Act. The online protest lasts for 24 hours and is intended to raise awareness on, as described by some, the draconian SOPA and PIPA bill that will severely disrupt people’s access to online information. Branding Magazine takes a look at how some of the most popular internet brands and destinations treated the today’s blackout.
Why is Wikipedia blacked-out? Wikipedia is protesting against SOPA and PIPA by blacking out the English Wikipedia for 24 hours, beginning at midnight January 18, Eastern Time. Readers who come to English Wikipedia during the blackout will not be able to read the encyclopedia. Instead, you will see messages intended to raise awareness about SOPA and PIPA, encouraging you to share your views with your representatives, and with each other on social media.
Two bills before Congress, known as the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, would censor the Web and impose harmful regulations on American business. Millions of Internet users and entrepreneurs already oppose SOPA and PIPA. The Senate will begin voting on January 24th. Please let them know how you feel. Sign this petition urging Congress to vote NO on PIPA and SOPA before it is too late.
Craiglist.com redirects to a page where it offers more information about SOPA.
WordPress’ home page that usually contains a list of fresh blogs are now censored. When clicked upon, they redirect to sopastrike.org offering more information on how to join the cause.
Twitpic, the popular image hosting service for Twitter, blacked out its background and logo which also links to more information on the SOPA / PIPA bills.
SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (PROTECT-IP Act) are very similar pieces of legislation that both want to kill off illegal file sharing and music downloading. While the intention is good, the way they go about doing it is extremely dangerous and can be easily abused.
While some other popular destinations such as Ask.com, Reddit and even the controversial 4chan.org contributed to blackout in a way or another, it did not create such a big impact as Wikipedia did – it generated over 4,600 articles in the media as of 6AM PT. Bear in mind, Wikipedia is a free encyclopedia which is created and maintained by users for users so they have every right to make a big move like this. Moreover, it takes guts and strength to pause the activity of a globally visited website for one whole day.
The internet is the most powerful tool we have for creating a more open and connected world. We can’t let poorly thought out laws get in the way of the internet’s development. Facebook opposes SOPA and PIPA, and we will continue to oppose any laws that will hurt the internet.
The world today needs political leaders who are pro-internet. We have been working with many of these folks for months on better alternatives to these current proposals. I encourage you to learn more about these issues and tell your congressmen that you want them to be pro-internet.
You can read more about our views here.
On the other hand, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo thinks that this mass online protest might not be a great idea:
— dick costolo (@dickc) January 16, 2012
With such a busy day today, it seems that the global blackout is already having some results – some of the senators and sponsors withdrew their names from the PIPA bill, with the situation changing on a hourly basis.
So there it is, this is how when some of the world’s most popular internet brands unite and stand against protecting the idea of free internet. It will be interesting to see how other big brands will react to SOPA/PIPA, because this bill is surely to affect them one way or the other.