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Snowmageddon and SOPA Blackouts

As I sat working from home with latte in hand watching the snow fall from my living room window, I set out to do my usual internet search. Depending on what you were searching the internet for on Wednesday, January 18th, you may have run into some blacked out sites—Wikipedia, Reddit, and Wired, among many others, went partially or entirely dark in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA). Their goal was to underline the message that SOPA poses a very real threat of Web censorship.

Back in the day, much of our information came from books, but the proliferation of the Internet has made ownership of information difficult to police. But what other implications does this bill have besides stopping online piracy? This Mashable article does a great job summarizing the fine print that has so many people opposing it.

No matter where I looked, my Facebook newsfeed and Twitter timeline, I could not get away from any mention of SOPA. And as active participant in the world of social media, I couldn’t help but think about how this bill could potentially snatch free speech in the space where millions of people express themselves each day.

Curious to learn more about the SOPA/PIPA online buzz, I turned to Visible Intelligence® to see what people were saying and where they were saying it. I discovered the obvious with the majority of conversation taking place on Twitter. Blogs ranked second behind Twitter, which comes as no surprise, as it seems many people felt the need to express their opinions in 140 characters or in very detailed blog posts.

The prominent terms below indicate that most of the yesterday’s conversation was about opposing the bill. I’d say the goal of the blackout was successful in getting folks’ attention to contact their congressperson with their message of opposition.

The way these bills are currently written, at least as I understand it, SOPA and PIPA are not all about piracy. Rather it is written to make sure old media and government still controls the internet instead of the new media of today—open, sharing, in an innovative environment.

Yesterday’s website blackouts may have sparked the spikes in the SOPA/PIPA conversations, but it won’t be going away soon. Were you one of the 45 million who signed Google’s Anti-SOPA Petition? This conversation will definitely be worth listening to, so be sure to check back on our blog for more commentary on this topic. Where do you stand on SOPA/PIPA? Tell us in the comments.


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