How the SOPA Day of Protests Played Out
The SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) blackout protest rolled out today having dominated discussion on the web over the last few days. It seemed you couldn’t visit Facebook or Twitter today without people posting about it, as well as visiting all the major online news sources. The recurrent concerns of protesting sites appear to be threats to innovation and freedom of speech.
Many sites, ranging from all sizes from across the world, have made some kind of gesture or statement in opposition to the proposed legislation, which indicates how large an effect the legislation would have if it’s passed. There’s been a massive amount of coverage given to Wikipedia’s blackout, so we’ve compiled a round-up of how other sites took action against the controversial anti-piracy bill.
Google’s homepage appears as it usually does over on this side of the pond, but on the U.S. site the Google logo is blacked out to highlight to protests. Google also released a statement on their blog yesterday laying out their reasons for opposing SOPA; they state that it will censor the web, limit innovation and will not be effective in stopping online piracy. Google’s statement on SOPA comes after Rupert Murdoch’s tweets a few days ago where he accused Google of being a “piracy leaderâ€ and also criticised Barack Obama over the government’s stalling on the legislation, “So Obama has thrown in his lot with Silicon Valley paymasters who threaten all software creators with piracy, plain thievery.-â€
Twitter, on the other hand, have taken a different approach to SOPA, with the site operating normally, following its CEO Dick Costolo saying in a tweet on Monday that, “Closing a global business in reaction to single-issue national politics is foolish.â€ Naturally this statement received a huge reaction and caused some controversy, which led Costolo is clarify that “I was referring explicitly to rqst to shut OUR doors, not othersâ€.
Facebook didn’t partake in the blackout protest today, but have issued a statement via their Facebook DC profile, saying that while piracy is an issue that they take very seriously, they “believe that PROTECT IP Act (or PIPA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which are currently being considered by Congress, are not the right solution to this problem, because of the collateral damage they would cause to the Internetâ€. Like most of the sites against SOPA, they say they are also concerned about how the bills could affect freedom of expression and are appealing to Congress to take time to fully consider the proposed legislation.
Reddit has been one of the most vocal and active opponents of the proposed bills, and is down across the world today. Redditors showed what they are capable of when they staged a boycott of GoDaddy last year, and anti-SOPA sentiment has been a mainstay on the site over the past few months. The video below features on their homepage today:
Photo sharing site Flickr have utilised the service’s own capabilities to demonstrate to users how the site could look if the SOPA legislation goes through. It is allowing users to darken photos during the 24 hour protest period, saying “Your symbolic act will help draw attention to this issue and let others know about the potential harmful impacts of these billsâ€ You can read the full blogpost here.
WordPress’s homepage today features blacked out images with the word ‘censored’ over them, and the Just Another WordPress Weblog users are shown how to add a ‘Stop Censorship’ ribbon to their own blogs or to join in the the blackout, with the author of the post Jane Wells saying, “I hope that a significant number of you on WordPress.com will join in this protest. Publishing freedom is a right we must protect.â€
Internet browser Mozilla has taken part in the blackout, appealing to visitors to the site to ”Join us to protect our rights to free speech, privacy, prosperity.â€ Despite this blackout on the homepage, Firefox is still available to download although it is via a link. The chairwoman of Mozilla Mitchell Baker has issued a statement regarding the stance on her blog, as has the company’s CEO Gary Kovacs.
Among all the serious protests, there were some sites that took a more light hearted and entertaining approach towards SOPA. The Next Web have compiled a list of what the word SOPA translates into in various languages, with interesting results, while Uncyclopedia applied their characteristic irreverent and surreal sense of humour to their blackout page, saying “Let it happen. Allow the Internet to be purified” .