Want to see if your policy makers are paying attention to you, the taxpayer? Just sit back and watch what unfolds over the next week as the internet explodes with anti-SOPA and anti-PIPA propaganda. As popular websites like Wikipedia shut down today, the fire is spreading across every social media platform world wide.
Recently I talked about the Google Bomb phenomenon, and how a large group of people can collectively act in a similar manner without any organizing body to influence search results. Take the recent Dr. Pepper uproar and multiply it by about a thousand and you get the Stop SOPA campaign. Every major internet entity is speaking out about potential government censorship, some more radically than others. Wikipedia has shut down their website entirely for the day. Google has a petition going along with a black censorship bar over their name. Facebook has made a statement, as has Twitter. WordPress has plugins for protestors as well as a clear anti-SOPA stance. And these are just a few of the heavy hitters, not to mention all the less-trafficked folks, like me.
When I woke up this morning, more than 3 million people had already signed the petition by Google to stop SOPA. By the end of the day, how many more millions can we expect? Millions of STOP SOPA posts and tweets are pouring out from every corner. It is the largest trending topic today and will most likely remain there until the vote. This is a chance to see if the US Government is using social media effectively. If they are listening and know that they cannot ignore a movement like this. If they do, I’d would not be surprised if the candidates running to repeal these bills in the next election win purely on social media campaigning alone.
Since I started writing this blog article, three Republican senators have withdrawn their support from SOPA/PIPA because of the public response online. So, perhaps this answers our question. Can social media have a drastic and immediate affect on public policy? You bet. Sorry Chris Dodd, chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America. I hate piracy, but this legislation is not the answer.