Wikipedia, Reddit, Boing Boing other websites and social media outlets will be blacked-out Wednesday January 18th to protest the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), currently in Congress. This bill intends to cut down on copyright issues, and protect intellectual property on the Internet. While this bill is mainly aimed at overseas sites that offer free downloads and different types of media, many other internet based companies are concerned.
If users log on to the english version of Wikipedia, the most trafficked version of the website, they will be directed to information about the SOPA bill and how to contact their local representatives.
Jimmy Wales, wikipedia’s founder confirmed that wikipedia will be shutting down service on Wednesday stating on twitter, “Student warning! Do your homework early. Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday!”
Twitter has already said they will not be participating in the blackout, although they are a strong opponent of the SOPA bill. Other sites have said they will not shut down service but will still support the effort, such as WordPress. The popular blog network will provide widgets to their users to put on their pages in support of the bill. It is yet to be seen if sites like Google or Facebook will shutdown service or any parts of service.
This must be seen as a monumental gesture against this bill. Wikipedia being one of the most travelled sites on the internet can truly bring light to this issue. Wikipedia tracks about 450 million views per month on their english version, they estimate with the blackout and surrounding press, that over 100 million people may view the site tomorrow.
If sites like Google and Facebook decided that they were going to black out their service, if only for a few hours, the outrage would be catastrophic. Users would be up in arms against the SOPA bill. These sites have the power to end this conflict, they can draw more attention to the bill in one day than everyone has in a year. Unfortunately for the U.S., Americans are lazy, and short of being physically coerced into taking action most wont. However denying them their beloved social media nectar of the Gods may give them a change of heart, and the push this bill needs in the right direction.