Reddit, the popular social news website whose community is responsible for spearheading the boycott on GoDaddy last month, will go dark on January 18th to protest the controversial SOPA bill and PROTECT-IP Act.
For 12 hours, starting from 8am to 8pm EST, the whole of Reddit would be replaced by a message — one that spells out the disaster SOPA and PIPA would bring to the internet.
“Instead of the normal glorious, user-curated chaos of reddit, we will be displaying a simple message about how the PIPA/SOPA legislation would shut down sites like reddit, link to resources to learn more, and suggest ways to take action,” the company wrote in a blog post.
Reddit To Trigger The Domino Effect?
The effectiveness of Reddit’s move, despite being one of the most popular websites (two billion pageviews in December alone), is highly questionable. Most of Reddit’s users, known as Redditors, are already well aware of the danger of SOPA/PIPA.
Over the past few weeks, there have been a constant stream of SOPA-related contents hitting the front page of Reddit. Some of those are calls to boycott companies that openly support SOPA, while others are targeting SOPA-supporting politicians.
That said, Reddit’s attempt to educate its users may be redundant. But its efforts are not completely wasted. In fact, the move will serve two extra purposes. Firstly, it’ll show the decision makers that internet companies are dead serious when they say SOPA/PIPA isn’t the way to go.
Secondly, it’ll influence other websites to join the movement. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales expressed his interest to bring the encyclopedia website offline along with Reddit on the 18th:
I’m all in favor of it, and I think it would be great if we could act quickly to coordinate with Reddit. I’d like to talk to our government affairs advisor to see if they agree on this as useful timing, but assuming that’s a greenlight, I think that matching what Reddit does (but in our own way of course) per the emerging consensus on how to do it, is a good idea.
But that means we need to move forward quickly on a concrete proposal and vote — we don’t have the luxury of time that we usually have, in terms of negotiating with each other for weeks about what’s exactly the best possible thing to do.
On Monday, Wales tweeted that Wikipedia would shut down its English language site for 24 hours.
Last week, some of the largest websites, including Google and Facebook, were reported to be contemplating blacking out their homepages for the same cause, but not a single one of them have pledged anything thus far. If Wikipedia is in, these companies could be forced to make a decision quickly in order to maximize the impact of the blackouts.
I’m afraid even the most hardcore supporter of SOPA and PIPA would hate to see Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Wikipedia, and Reddit all going offline at the same time. It’s possible to get off the internet for half a day, but it’ll be impossible to ignore all the attention SOPA and PIPA will get after the, dare I say, historical moment.