Social news sharing site Reddit is planing to black out its service on January 18 from 8AM to 8PM EST (1300-0100 UTC) in protest of the United States’ proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA).
“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,” wrote company admins in a January 10 post on the Reddit blog.
If passed, the legislation would give the US government and copyright holders the ability to shut down sites that host or link to copyrighted material.
There has been talk of internet giants including AOL, Google, Facebook, eBay, PayPal, Twitter, Wikipedia and Yahoo! imposing a temporary shutdown of their sites on January 23 to help inform the public about the potential affects of the SOPA and Protect IP bills, although as yet none of the big companies have officially announced that they will block their site in protest.
While Reddit might not be a household name, its stance against SOPA is no less significant. In December Reddit served 2.07 billion page views and saw approximately 34,900,000 unique visitors on its site.
However, not all of Reddit’s users are supportive of the decision to take the site offline. Comments in Reddit’s r/politics and /r/SOPA discussions range from supportive to furious:
“I never thought I'd be excited to see Reddit go 'offline', but here we are. I truly hope other large sites take note and decide to participate.” InternetDrama.
“We need Google and the other big ones to black out too, or else we're just preaching to the choir.” rmm45177.
“I still think that this is pointless. Everyone on Reddit has heard about SOPA by now. Blacking out Facebook, Wikipedia, Google, Twitter, etc. makes sense. Plenty of people who use those sites may have never heard of SOPA, but I seriously doubt most redditors have an idea what SOPA is.
It seems like we're punishing ourselves for no reason.” bigDean636.
“What will this accomplish? ‘We're going to protest SOPA by blacking out our own site?’ Great job government, you got the people to shut down their OWN websites without the bill even having been passed.” Paimun.
“Oh, so I have you guys to thank for losing Reddit in a week. Great.” marishtar.
Reddit assures its users that “[w]e wouldn’t do this if we didn’t believe this legislation and the forces behind it were a serious threat to reddit and the Internet as we know it.
Blacking out reddit is a hard choice, but we feel focusing on a day of action is the best way we can amplify the voice of the community.”
On January 18 Reddit will replace its standard site with a message about how the PIPA/SOPA legislation would shut down sites like Reddit along with links to informative resources and suggestions about how to take action against the bills.
If you live in the US, the Boycott SOPA Android app allows you to scan products and avoid purchasing those that are linked to SOPA-supporting companies.