As I predicted last week, Facebook didn't join the many companies participating in a blackout of their services today in protest of the upcoming U.S. anti-piracy legislation Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). Nevertheless, users on the social network are fighting the good fight. Not only are people's News Feeds flooded with talk of why the bills are outrageous, but Facebook users are actually taking action by changing their profile picture and linking to webpages detailing the issues.
Facebook is of course opposed to SOPA, as it is part of a 15-company group known as netCoalition. Two months ago, nine of these companies, including Facebook, signed a NetCoalition industry letter (PDF) expressing their concern with both SOPA and PIPA. This is the crux of their stance, according to 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.
Despite Facebook's opposition, I find it frustrating the company isn't taking action. Here's what I said last week:
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.
In any case, Facebook users are working hard to protest against SOPA. Throughout the month, many Facebook Pages have been posted; here are five, all of which have more than 1,000 Likes:
At the time of writing, 40,000 Facebook users say they are "going" to the public event, and the number is growing very quickly. Participation simply requires changing your profile picture to the image I embedded above. I've already seen a few friends on Facebook do so; have you changed yours?