The SOPA protest Reddit blackout is on, scheduled for 12 hours on Jan. 18 to send a simple message about how the PIPA/SOPA legislation would shut down sites like reddit and suggest ways to take action.
For addicted reddit users -- sometimes referred to as redditors -- that's a hard pill to swallow -- half a day without the front page of the Internet, the social news Web site where registered users submit content so other users to vote it up, or down, and chime in with insight that is typically informative but almost always interesting, to say the least.
Some users haven't been off of reddit for that long since the first moment they registered and signed in.
But the company understands, as do many of its users, that in facing a tough challenge like SOPA, one has little choice but taking unusual and strong-speaking action like the blackout in response. Reddit understands the hardship the blackout will cause for users, saying on the site's blog in explaining the blackout that we're as addicted to reddit as the rest of you, and that they wouldn't do the scheduled blackout 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.
Reddit noted that not all users think the blackout is a good idea -- the forum, after all, is nothing without user activity -- but said it wants feedback on other important steps that can be taken to expose SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) and its threat. Reddit and most of its users argue that SOPA and PIPA represent a censorship threat since it would grant, if adopted, the U.S. Department of Justice and copyright holders power to obtain court orders against Web sites that infringe upon content.
The threat, obviously, is that user sites like reddit, which rely on user postings, could be shut down even if the site was expressly against such postings.
The reddit SOPA protest blackout will occur from 8 a.m. on Jan. 18 to 8 p.m., coinciding with House hearings on the legislation. Reddit will also run a live stream of the House hearings, in the attempt to provide more education.
It's not clear of other mega-social sites including Facebook and Twitter will join the blackout. Though many users have called for such a thing, the economics to the companies could potentially be too severe, even though they are against the legislation. But one has to hand it to reddit, which clearly understands that a public stance must be taken.
The blackout will serve as an example of what could easily happen if the legislation is passed. And while 12 hours without the social site may crimp the habitual activity of many for longer than they like, it's also likely an effective tool and making one very important point.