The web’s been grumbling and muttering about SOPA for a while now, but we’ve not really seen any big gestures made. That’s changing: Reddit admins have announced a blackout to protest against the act.
On 18 January, visitors to Reddit’s usual wonderfully chaotic home page will instead be greeted by “a simple message about how the PIPA/SOPA legislation would shut down sites like reddit”, according to a blog post written by the Reddit team. The blackout will last 12 hours.
As well as that message, the page will link to resources where people can learn more about SOPA, and suggest ways in which people can take action. They’ll also feature a live video stream of the House hearing where Internet entrepreneurs and technical experts will be testifying that day.
In the same blog post, the team said:
The freedom, innovation, and economic opportunity that the Internet enables is in jeopardy. Congress is considering legislation that will dramatically change your Internet experience and put an end to Reddit and many other sites you use everyday… There are powerful forces trying to censor the Internet, and a few months ago many people thought this legislation would surely pass. However, there’s a new hope that we can defeat this dangerous legislation.
A blackout is a bold move on Reddit’s part, and probably the biggest statement we’ve seen made against SOPA so far.
But I don’t think it’s enough. There’s an element of preaching to the choir here: most Reddit users are tech-savvy and, probably, already oppose SOPA. We need more if we’re to dissuade people from supporting the act.
What’s needed to make real impact is for some of the big boys, like Google or Facebook, which both oppose SOPA, to do something similar. The chances of that are very, very slim — but without it, the message just isn’t loud enough. [Reddit Blog]