Wednesday marked an important protest in the fight against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), as Wikipedia, Reddit, BoingBoing, and other sites went black to demonstrate the severity of the proposed measures of the copyright protection laws known as SOPA and PIPA. And all signs suggest that the ensuing Internet chatter about SOPA and PIPA was huge.
Twitter announced yesterday that 2.4 million Tweets about SOPA/PIPA were posted on the micro-blogging site Wednesday, with the top-five items of the day being "SOPA," "Stop SOPA," "PIPA," "Tell Congress," and the humorous hashtag "#factswithoutwikipedia," a reference to what the world could look like without access to the Web's free encyclopedia.
Thursday, Twitter updated its initial report of SOPA/PIPA Tweets, posting an even more impressive figure of 3.9 million Tweets on the day of the blackout.
The tenor of those most popular Twitter topics reflect a decidedly anti-SOPA sentiment, one of the most notable coming from the CEO of the other social networking site, Mark Zuckerberg, Tweeting for the first time since 2009. "Tell your congressmen you want them to be pro-internet," said Zuckerberg in his Tweet, which also linked to his Facebook statement regarding SOPA/PIPA/
One Tweet from David Shares of tech/culture blog BitShare seemed to say it all. "If #SOPA passes, there'll be NO YouTube, Twitter, Google, Wikipedia, Facebook & Tumblr, #SOPAstrike today and End Piracy, Not Liberty!" Tweeted Shares.
In spite of being blacked out, Wikipedia experienced a 14% traffic surge from UK viewers Wednesday, and a 4.1% increase overall, with 5.8 million visits and 1 million on the site's mobile platform.
By days end, many members of Congress had come out against SOPA/PIPA, including several of those who had initially endorsed it. Reps. Ben Quayle (R-AZ) and Lee Terry (R-NE), both of whom were original co-sponsors of the bills, made statements Wednesday against them. PIPA lost four co-sponsors in the Senate, including Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). "It is simply not ready for prime time and both sides must continue working together to find a better path forward,” said Hatch in a statement.
“It’s pretty clear to many of us that there’s a lack of consensus at this point," said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), as reported by The Washington Post.
Several Senate websties even experienced unintentional "blackouts" of their own, due to heightened traffic from concerned citizens. A list of the office telephone numbers and Web pages of members of Congress, circulated on social networking sites Wednesday, added to the increase in traffic. There was even a sizable offline SOPA/PIPA protest, drawing over 2,000 people in midtown Manhattan.
One member of the US House of Representatives, Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) even posted a humorous YouTube video, casting his lot in with the protestors.
Translation: the SOPA/PIPA protest was huge.