Posts Tagged ‘SOPA’

Death of SOPA and the Rise of PIPA

Does it strike you that the Web and social media have been on the defensive recently, playing the role of victim to the whims of the authorities who are attempting to instill some fairly radical, if not draconian, changes to possibly the greatest tool ever?

Powerful Web properties, search engines and social media services recently displayed their collective power of the digital world.

The Wikipedia blackout, Google’s blackout of its logo and the outspoken support of Mark Zuckerberg all played a vital role in this unprecedented act of Web activism.

Politicians gave up and SOPA has been shot down, but the sense of relief could be a short-lived mirage. A decision on PIPA (Protect IP Act) is nearing and Senate support seems to be high. Of course, the same was said about SOPA and we all know how that ended.

The voice of the Web transferred seamlessly to the political arena. It is fair to say SOPA and its aftermath will become a case study for years to come. The curious part is whether we can expect the same result for PIPA, which some believe has more legs.

It is imperative that we fight to secure the nature of the Web. We can achieve this by allowing social media to grow, not only in popularity but also in power and reach. If nothing else, we learned that our online voices can yield offline results.

SOPA and PIPA aren’t necessarily malicious and evil acts against the Web and its users, but they are out-of-touch posturing based on ideas that do not match our love and use of the web.

Ultimately, they have been born from people more concerned with political maneuvering, than with the unadulterated freedom and purpose of the internet.

For more, check out this video featuring Clay Shirky on why SOPA is going to disappear.

The Day The Internet Went Dark

You may have noticed yesterday that some of your favourite sites on the internet weren’t as they should be or were shut down all together. This was a large initiative by many internet based companies to protest the Stop Internet Piracy Act (more commonly known as SOPA) that was scheduled to be voted on in the US yesterday. Some of the sites that went black included Wikipedia, Reddit and even smaller sites like popular blogger Chris Brogan’s site.

For those unfamiliar with SOPA (and a similar bill known as PIPA), here’s a great video that explains just how it would affect everyday internet users like you and me:

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

Because these bills are heavily supported by the US entertainment industry, there has been very little talk about them in the mainstream media. Most people know about it because everyday people had taken to the internet and social networks to help spread the word. And spread it they did. I took to MAP, our social media monitoring and analytics software, to see just how much talk had been going on through social media.

To be inclusive of the numerous sayings and hashtags people have been using I searched for the terms “SOPA,” “PIPA,”StopSOPA,” “SOPAblackout” and “blackout.” Over the past 3 months I was able to find 247,213 blog posts, 82,713 online news articles, 311,327 forum posts and 2.9 million tweets containing my search terms.

Trended out over time that activity looks like this:

Because yesterday was a known day of protest the activity greatly overshadows all the previous activity. The following popularity chart shows the activity for three months up to January 17th, the day before the blackout. The first large spike in November was when the SOPA bill first started getting attention by the public. Then there were two large spikes in talk in December. The first, on December 15th, was the day that the US government passed NDAA, a non-internet related but also unpopular bill and people made connections between the two bills. The second spike in December was the day that the public became aware that the popular internet domain seller Go Daddy was supporting the SOPA bill. Go Daddy later retracted their support, but the public had already spoken.

While SOPA and PIPA are both bills that could be passed the United States government, they would have a great effect on the way the entire world uses the internet. That’s why the entire world has been talking about the bills. The greatest majority of talk through social media was coming from the United States (53.5%), but other countries were making their thoughts on the bills heard. Brazil, a large Twitter using country, accounted for 5.5% of the talk, followed by Spain (4.9%) and the UK (3.9%).

And just what have people been talking about? Our buzzgraph shows that “piracy” is right in the center of the conversation. But there’s strong connections to words like “protester,” infringement” and “censorship” showing that a lot of the talk was against SOPA and PIPA. We can also see a lot of talk about the websites that went black yesterday in opposition to the bills like “Wikipedia,” “Reddit” and “Google.” There’s also a strong connection to “Go Daddy” from that large spike in November that talked about their support of SOPA.

I already noted that talk on January 18th greatly overshadowed the previous three months, so I dug into the conversation that just happened yesterday. On blackout day alone I was bale to find 32,548 blog posts, 13,107 news articles, 18,504 forum posts and 1.4 million tweets containing my search terms.

All of the talk and support from everyday citizens led to the bill being temporarily shot down and not voted on yesterday as was originally planned. However, PIPA is still set to go in front of US congress on January 24th, so the internet blackout happened just as it was planned. The fate of the internet is still up in the air, but if enough people raise their voices, the people with power may just get the message that there has to be a better way to solve the piracy problem.