Unless Facebook, Google blackout, SOPA will succeed: Here's what you can do

Summary:Reddit's upcoming blackout is a good start, but misses the mark. Here's how you can help: by directly contacting Facebook and Google, two key opponents to the SOPA and PIPA bills.

Enough talk. Let's try and do something incredible.

It is clear that Reddit's efforts to black out its website in protest of the SOPA and PIPA (also known as the "PROTECT-IP Act), while commendable and brave, the news-sharing collective represents only a fraction of the U.S. population.

Seeing as the U.S. is a world leader in spearheading democracy, an over 50 percent majority is needed to legitimately oppose these two laws.

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last year, both SOPA and PIPA will enable the U.S. government and the courts to almost indiscriminately censor the web. Sister site CNET helpfully has a handy guide as to how the laws will affect you.

Looking into the data further, it is clear that Reddit has a diverse range of nationalities. Run with me on this one.

The U.S. population currently stands at nearly 313 million people. Reddit is ranked the 55th most popular website in the U.S., with an estimated 46 percent of U.S. Reddit users. Combine that data with the 35 million unique users figure in December 2011, equates to around 16.1 million Americans.

Therefore, only 5.1 percent of Americans are on Reddit.

The figures alone only show the maximum impact that Reddit's blackout will have on the web. Just over 5 percent of Reddit's total U.S. population, at most, opposes the SOPA or PIPA draft legislation. The figure is likely to be less than that, but not significantly.

It's a good start, but far more is needed.

Facebook has nearly 900 million users, though 75 percent of its users are outside the United States. If therefore 25 percent of its users are within the U.S., this figure equates to roughly 225 million American users.

Google has a marketshare an estimated 66 percent of the U.S. market. The CIA estimates that 279 million Americans are online in 2010; a figure probably slightly higher two years on. An estimated 180 million American users search with Google regularly.

Facebook may officially oppose SOPA, but ZDNet's Emil Protalinski made his case that the world's social network would not participate in an online blackout, similar to that of Reddit's upcoming 12-hour shutdown. Google however, as reported by sister site CBS News, "cannot support the bill as written". But the company has not officially confirmed or denied its stance on a blackout.

What is clear is that the two combined, or even alone for that matter, could raise enough awareness about the bill to have the bill thrown out of Washington.

So let's make this happen.

Both Google and Facebook have contact forms users can access, hidden away in their help and contact pages, to share thoughts, suggestions or features.

  • To contact Google, click here, select ‘Other' and fill out the form.
  • To contact Facebook, click here and sign-in, and fill in the form.

Feel free to copy-and-paste the following:

As a user of your service, I thank you for your continued opposition of H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and S. 968, the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act (PROTECT-IP). I implore you to consider one-half or full-day of restricted site access to your global services in protest of the aforementioned bills in the way that news-sharing site Reddit plans for January 18th between 8am--8pm U.S. Eastern Time.

Both Facebook and Google have everything to lose should these bills pass through Congress.

But users of the free and open web, as we live and breathe it, have the most to lose. Not only are services crucial to our every day lives under threat, our freedom quite literally hangs in the balance.

Related:

Topics: Social Enterprise, Google

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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