If a single person wanted his or her voice to be heard in American politics, the standard "write or call your representative" has always been used. Do you know how many times I actually wrote or called my representative? Zero. I don't know if that makes me a bad citizen or just one of those people that has a million other things going on in his life and simply doesn't have the time.
But after seeing the results of the anti-SOPA blackout, I'm beginning to change my tune. No, I still won't get around to writing my representative. I no longer need to. With the Internet, my voice can be heard with a click of the mouse. It's fast, easy, and is going to change the world of politics and the world of business forever.
So what can I say about the SOPA blackout? For one, the big Internet companies were much more restrained than was rumored. In a past blog, I wrote about the potential blacklash that major Internet companies could face if they simply turned off their services for a full 24 hours in protest against the SOPA legislation. In reality, the only site that actually went "dark" was Wikipedia. Other companies including Google, Reddit, Craigslist, and Flickr simply added a splash page or modified their logo in protest of the Act.
One notable Internet giant that decided to sit this protest out was Facebook. And in my mind, this was an absolute genius move by Zuckerberg and company. Despite the fact that you have big Websites protesting, most of the noise is coming from regular Internet users. Through the power of social networking, the response from millions of everyday people was the highlight of the protest in my mind. And the wonderful thing was, you could protest in a variety of ways including:
- Social networks -- Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc
- Wordpress and Tumblr anti-SOPA plugins for blog pages
- Cloudflare's Stop Censorship app for Websites using the Cloudflare caching service
- Sign Google's anti-SOPA petition
Basically, if you used the Internet on the 18th, you were almost guaranteed an opportunity to publicly state your opinion on the matter.
In the end, it looks as if SOPA (and its cousin PIPA) are quickly losing favor in the House of Representatives. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has already stated that a consensus is needed in order to take further action on the bill. Since there is no consensus, SOPA in its current form looks to be delayed indefinitely. Add to that the fact that the White House has already threatened to veto the bill if it ever reaches the president's desk.
This is great news, but the fight isn't over. Those in favor of SOPA are not giving up so easy. Hollywood execs (who are pro-SOPA) have already issued threats to stop donating to president Obama's re-election campaign. But while money is important in politics, you can't get elected if you don't have any votes, so I think that this time, the anti-SOPA side is going to pull off a win -- with much of the credit going to the millions of regular Internet users who participated during the anti-SOPA online protest.