While Wikipedia, Reddit and other sites much of the U.S. work force relies on to
kill time do important things went dark Wednesday to protest controversial Internet piracy bills, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sort of did the opposite — cranking up his Twitter account and tweeting for the first time since 2009.
"Tell your congressmen you want them to be pro-Internet," Zuckerberg tweeted on Wednesday afternoon from his @finkd Twitter account, which still has more than 120,850 followers, despite being dormant since Zuckerberg's 18th tweet on March 13, 2009, when he announced his public page on Facebook.
The fresh 19th tweet from @finkd links straight back to Facebook as well, leading to Zuckerberg's post on Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and the Protect IP Act in the Senate, two bills supported mainly by the entertainment industry and aimed at stopping illegal downloading and streaming of movies and TV shows.
"The Internet is the most powerful tool we have for creating a more open and connected world," Zuckerberg writes, and goes on to echo concerns from both free speech advocates and tech giants that the legislation would let federal authorities shut down portions of the Internet without due process, and fundamentally alter the Internet's ability to provide a platform for free speech:
"We can't let poorly thought out laws get in the way of the Internet's development. Facebook opposes SOPA and PIPA, and we will continue to oppose any laws that will hurt the Internet.
The world today needs political leaders who are pro-internet. We have been working with many of these folks for months on better alternatives to these current proposals. I encourage you to learn more about these issues and tell your congressmen that you want them to be pro-Internet."
Zuckerberg's tweeted link — which came around the same time some co-sponsors of the legislation in Congress announced that they are withdrawing their support for the bills — then leads to the official page for Facebook's DC office. There, Facebook's position on SOPA and PIPA is expanded, and for those who want to learn more, there's a link to the NetCoalition Rogue Website Legislation resource center.
Facebook, Twitter and Google are among several tech giants which didn't take part in Wednesday's Internet blackout, despite opposing SOPA. (Msnbc.com, a joint venture of Microsoft and Comcast/NBC Universal. Comcast/NBC Universal is listed as a supporter of SOPA on the House Judiciary Committee website. On Tuesday, Microsoft said it opposes SOPA as it is "currently drafted.")
Google showed solidarity with the protestors on Wednesday by placing a black tape-like bar on the Google home page, the area best known for housing Google's popular "doodle" logos. Days before the protest, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo himself tweeted the equivalent of an eye-roll over Wikipedia's plans to go dark, writing "Closing a global business in reaction to single-issue national politics is foolish."
Wikipedia was the biggest site to go dark as part of the protest, along with social news site Reddit, and popular tech blog Boing Boing, which posted a prompt on Wednesday that read in part, "Boing Boing is offline today, because the US Senate is considering legislation that would certainly kill us forever."
More on the annoying way we live now:
- In wake of Web blackout, SOPA/PIPA support weakens
- Wikipedia goes dark on piracy bill protest day
- Red Tape: Stop pirating my stories about SOPA, or I'll have to support it
- How to access Wikipedia during the SOPA blackout
- What an Internet protest looks like
- As Google, Wikipedia join protest, SOPA opponents gain momentum
Helen A.S. Popkin goes blah blah blah about the Internet — at least until the Stop Online Piracy Act becomes a law, making snark a libelous felony. Tell her to get a real job on Twitter and/or Facebook. Also, Google+.