The Real Lesson of the SOPA Blackout: The Internet Should Flex Its Muscles More Often

Posted by Amanda Hess

SOPA nerds
Yesterday, basically the entire internet pulled together to protest government censorship. I've never seen online activism quite like this: dozens of unaffiliated websites staging a coordinated push for government change. All we had to do was take a seat—firewall our content, black out our designs, send readers away from our sites and to their nearest virtual congressional office. As someone who produces content primarily online, I've never been so aware of my own power over the national conversation.

Actually, it's a little disconcerting. Internet professionals came together to urge Congress to reject SOPA and PIPA because we believe that an unregulated internet is better for everyone, but also because the legislation would directly affect our bottom lines. At I Work for the Internet, you can see the faces of people who would be affected by these bills. We're predominantly white guys with laptop cameras (and some pretty boss headphones!). We're people who work hard at important jobs like everyone else. But we're hardly the group most in need of grassroots activist support.

Yesterday's action was an exhilarating display of our power to do good. I hope we don't stop here. I would love to see online companies invest this sort of coordinated initiative to help other people who are under attack in this country—to make a conscious effort to elevate less privileged voices. SOPA was a key rallying opportunity for us because it was a specific, nonpartisan issue that we all cared about on a personal level. We needed to stop SOPA to keep our platforms. Now, let's do something with them.

Screenshot via I Work for the Internet.