Don't expect Facebook to go dark for SOPA

Summary:Facebook has signed a letter that states it is against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Still, don't expect the social networking giant to participate in a joint blackout of Internet services.

Update: Facebook not part of SOPA blackout, but users still protest

Internet companies are reportedly considering a joint blackout of their services in protest of the upcoming U.S. anti-piracy legislation Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). A group known as netCoalition, which Facebook is part of, confirmed last week that the extreme "nuclear option" was under consideration.

"This type of thing doesn't happen because companies typically don't want to put their users in that position," Markham Erickson of NetCoalition said in a statement. "The difference is that these bills so fundamentally change the way the Internet works. People need to understand the effect this special-interest legislation will have on those who use the Internet."

The group consists of the following 15 companies: AOL, eBay, Etsy, Facebook, Foursquare, Google, IAC, LinkedIn, Mozilla, OpenDNS, PayPal, Twitter, Wikimedia Foundation, Yahoo, and Zynga. Out of all these heavily-trafficked web sites, only Wikipedia has publicly stated it is interested in fighting back with a blackout of its own service.

Two months ago, nine of these companies signed a NetCoalition industry letter (PDF) expressing their concern with both SOPA and PIPA. Here are the nine companies: AOL, eBay, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Twitter, Yahoo, and Zynga. This is the crux of their stance from the letter:

We support the bills' stated goals -- providing additional enforcement tools to combat foreign "rogue" websites that are dedicated to copyright infringement or counterfeiting. Unfortunately, the bills as drafted would expose law-abiding U.S. Internet and technology companies to new uncertain liabilities, private rights of action, and technology mandates that would require monitoring of web sites. We are concerned that these measures pose a serious risk to our industry's continued track record of innovation and job-creation, as well as to our Nation's cybersecurity. We cannot support these bills as written and ask that you consider more targeted ways to combat foreign "rogue" websites dedicated to copyright infringement and trademark counterfeiting, while preserving the innovation and dynamism that has made the Internet such an important driver of economic growth and job creation.

A day without Facebook would not only affect a lot of people but it would also free up a ton of time. Add websites like Google, PayPal, Wikipedia, and you have a very important portion of the popular Internet no longer at your fingertips.

Facebook undoubtedly supports what netCoalition has to say, but I just cannot see Menlo Park taking down the website. That being said, I don't see why the company can't put a link on its homepage to inform its users about SOPA and PIPA.

Facebook declined to comment on this article. If it was planning a blackout, something tells me the company wouldn't be quiet about it.

Reddit users have scheduled a blackout for January 18, 2012. Here is the call to action:

http://support.google.com/contact/bin/request.py?hl=en&contact_type=bizdev&rd=1 The link has already been submitted 6 months ago (so no karma for me).. let them know the people stand against SOPA and the boycott. None of the big companies will take the initiative and set a date, so I did. 1/18/12 is the date (Wednesday, middle of the week).

No major Internet company has yet confirmed it will do anything on the given date.

See also:

Topics: Social Enterprise, Enterprise Software, Google, Developer

About

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years, he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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