Wikipedia’s SOPA / PIPA Blackout Seen By 162 Million PeopleBy: Drew Bowling - January 19, 2012
Everybody make it through yesterday’s Internet-wide protest? Everyone still in one piece? Good. Now, let’s take a moment to consider the aftermath of Wikipedia’s protest of SOPA/PIPA yesterday.
While reports are coming in that 4.5 million people signed Google’s anti-SOPA petition yesterday, Wikipedia has shared the information gathered from the 24-hour total blackout of their English-language page. The press release states that during the protest, 162 million people landed on the Wikipedia blackout page and that, of those visitors, 8 million U.S. readers looked up their representatives via Wikipedia in order to protest SOPA and PIPA. The report goes on:
“The Wikipedia blackout is over and the public has spoken,” said Sue Gardner, Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director. “162 million of you saw our blackout page asking if you could imagine a world without free knowledge. You said no. You shut down the Congressional switchboards, and you melted their servers. Your voice was loud and strong.”
During yesterday’s black out, people communicated their reactions on Twitter, which ranged from celebration and humor to unbelievably risible outrage (the latter of which was mostly students, so remember that when you think about how they’ll be in charge of a lot of things some day).
Wikipedia points out that, after the blackout started, several related worldwide trends materialized on Twitter such as #factswithoutwikipedia, #sopastrike, and “Imagine a World Without Free Knoweldge.” Incredibly, in the initial hour of Wikipedia’s blackout, “#wikipediablackout constituted 1% of all tweet” and “more than 12,000 people posted comments of support on the Wikimedia Foundation’s blog post announcing the blackout.”
Wikipedia sums up:
For Wikipedia, this fight has never been about money, but about knowledge. As a community of authors, editors, photographers, and programmers, Wikipedians invite everyone to share and build upon the work already begun.
In a little over a decade, Wikipedians have built the largest encyclopedia in human history. Wikipedia’s mission is to empower and engage people to document the sum of all human knowledge, and to make it available to all humanity, in perpetuity.
The Internet has enabled creativity, knowledge, and innovation to shine. As Wikipedia and other websites went dark, readers directed their energy to protecting the free and open Internet.
We thank our readers for their support.
Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia’s founder and commander-in-chief, reflected on the “unprecedented, historic shuttering of the largest repository of free knowledge in the world”:
http://t.co/7saONGFv and there is still a need for phone calls!Our thank you to the world
Additionally, Wales humbly noted on his blog earlier today that, while he appreciates the kind sentiments thanking him for his bravery many supporters have sent his way, the “fight for free knowledge is for everyone”:
I want to push back a little bit on it and reflect on where the real bravery is in the fight for free knowledge for everyone. I live in a country which respects the freedom of speech. I am at no risk of prison or physical violence or monetary fines for my views. If the worst that gets thrown at me is MPAA head Christopher Dodd saying that an Internet uprising is an “abuse of power” then I will survive just fine.
I know of Wikipedia volunteers in authoritarian countries, though, who are incredibly brave. Hossein Derakhshan is a young man I first met at Wikimania 2005 in Frankfurt. A Wikipedia editor and blogger, he is serving a 19 and a half year sentence in Iran for his writings on the Internet.
I know of a Chinese Wikipedian who was visited by the police for setting up a mirror of Wikipedia multiple times during the era when China banned Wikipedia.
There are many more like them, all around the world.
These, and people like them, are my heroes. They are the people of true courage. I’m a very fortunate man in life, and I’m proud to stand up for freedom of speech and the right to access to knowledge in every circumstance that I can. But my courage, if it is courage, is nothing compared to the courage of those who are really risking life and limb to speak truth to power.
Let us take a moment today to honor them.
So now that the scores are being tallied after the first round of Internet versus SOPA/Congress, how did yesterday’s Wikipedia blackout affect you? Were you one the millions who contacted your Congressional Representative? Chime in below with your comments/thoughts.