#BlackoutSOPA: A Look At The Social Media Movement That Helped Stall The SOPA Legislation
Over the past month, SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261,) has been the hottest, most controversial news topics. The proposed legislation required the take-down of infringed content from ISPs, search engines and webmasters. The good news is, SOPA has been shelved … for now.
The outpouring of anti-SOPA support has been overwhelming, and may have influenced the White House’s decision to not support the legislation in it’s current form. An outpouring of support on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and from webmasters made the anti-SOPA stance a popular one. While the original SOPA legislation has been shelved indefinitely, a strong push is still underway to make sure that more SOPA-like legislation isn’t proposed again in the near future.
The Reddit Blackout
Many sites are kicking the support up a notch by “going black” in an effort to show their visitors what could happen if the SOPA bill was passed. One of the most vocal voices against SOPA has been Reddit founder, Alexis Ohanian. Reddit, a site that features socially driven news stories (and 2 billion pageviews a month!) scheduled a blackout on Jan 18th and urged others to do so as well. Other websites that came on board were Tucows, the Cheezburger network and there was even talk about a Wikipedia blackout (no official confirmation). Neither Google nor Facebook showed official support for the blackouts.
The blackouts have been proposed for a 12 hour span (8 AM – 8 PM EST on January 18th), and webmasters have been urged to participate. A “this website has gone dark” template exists for those who are looking to become a part of the #BlackoutSOPA movement. In addition to taking an entire site down, a blacked-out splash page also exists that allows users to continue through to the site.
For more information on Reddit (and the web’s) continued fight against SOPA see the SOPA subreddit.
Social Media Support
The anti-SOPA movement may have been most apparent on social networking sites, as thousands of users added “STOP SOPA” to their profiles. Blackout SOPA led the movement as they offered a an anti-SOPA tag that could be appended underneath user profiles. Some high profile accounts that used this badge include MC Hammer, The Lonely Island, Twitter co-founder Ev, and Tim O’Reilly.
Overall, this is a textbook example of how organized social media support can help cause a disruption to the system while achieving major goals. Continue to show your anti-SOPA support today and stay tuned for more SOPA information.
Postscript by Matt McGee: Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales has now confirmed via Twitter that Wikipedia’s English-language site will join the blackout:
@foxhuntingx Yes, global, of English Wikipedia only.
— Jimmy Wales (@jimmy_wales) January 16, 2012