Was it Social Media That Defeated that Bad SOPA/PIPA Bill?

I was delighted to read Vivek Wadhwa’s take on Social media’s role in politics on the Washington Post:


To frame this battle properly, a loosely organized group of Internet leaders outwitted a well-funded lobbying organization. And they did so in grand style, convincing dozens of lawmakers to reverse their votes virtually overnight.

he goes on to liken this phenomenon to the voice of the people in Egypt and then the rest of the Middle East last Spring. But also something else altogether, this:

A sleeping giant — the technology world — finally rose. Google, Mozilla, Reddit, O’Reilly Radar, Wikipedia, and thousands of other Websites rose up to protest PIPA and SOPA.

I like the idea that the defeat of SOPA/PIPA are, like the political changes in the Middle East, due to changes in possibilities and the way people work together. I’d like to think that in this case technology is in a broad scope it’s like what happened a generation or so ago when Mahatma Gandhi, and a few years later Dr. Martin Luther King, changed the relationship between individuals and governments by establishing the power of the public non-violent protest. Isn’t that similar? Disenfranchised, silenced people discover a voice.

Was it social media that defeated SOPA/PIPA, or people suddenly getting annoyed and complaining?

Mine isn’t the greatest analogy, either: It works way better with the Arab Spring than with SOPA/PIPA, because in the first case it did seem like a collection of voiceless individuals; but in the second, that so-called sleeping giant was hardly voiceless. Just distracted, perhaps. Looking in the other direction, and then suddenly confronted with a threat.

Either way: hooray!


  • Vivek Wadhwa says:

    Tim, people have always been complaining about Government. But all they could do in the past was to wait till elections and throw the politicians out. Here we had instant results thanks to social media. 🙂



    • Tim Berry says:

      Vivek, that’s what makes this interesting, but I think it’s not as simple as pre-tech and post-tech … I think we have evolution in waves, and the appearance of progress. That’s why I suggested the example of the non-violent protest, which was an idea that ended up giving disenfranchised people a powerful tool for protest and, over time, effecting change. This social media wave is at least one example of technological change doing a lot of people a lot of good; but not the first, the last, or the only one.

      Thanks for the addition.


  • Jerry says:

    Americans stand up for what they believe.. remember the Alamo ? Oh yes we are the most lazy of human beings, oh yes we are spoiled but hey! start taking away the freedom, our way of luxury & you will find Americans geared up for battle. Do the entertainment studios actually think they will increase there sakes by controlling the flow of information ? Chances are far greater that we the people were ready to stop throwing our money into TV, cable, movies, music if such a bill was passed. Imagine what would happen to all the big screen HD TV displays & how it would change media ? There is no difference today then there was 10 years ago, if movies have lost millions & sit here & blame it on the internet (technology) then they seriously have a problem. They need to realize the movies they put out these days are not all that great, people get tired of the same old thing.. what can you do with action movies ? not much.. without a story, you do not attract the public. Movies of the 50,60,70,80’s rock. The last 20 years we had some good ones & the only thing which makes them great is special effects.. the story just isn’t there, Transformer is a good example of a flop.. Superman being remade, Batman.. these are not movies in them self but a way to bring the past toward new technology & spice up a old story. Movies are repeated, how many parts do we really need ? George Lucus was smart, he knew when to stop making star wars, it was supposed to run 20 years & it did.. the story was written long before the movies were in sequence. I am personally tired of going to the movies, there is nothing I haven’t seen before so why should I waste $20 on a movie ticket when I can wait for the movie to be on Pay Per View or Blue Ray & watch it on my 40″ TV ? Why should I pay multi times to see the same movie (cable, drive in, Block buster, ect.) ? 20 years ago, we did not have the technology we do today, the quality was much better going to the see the movie on the big screen & the sound was much better. Today we have the technology, movies on my TV is the highest quality & the sound is awesome which really means, I have no reason to go see a movie, pay for a movie multi times when my TV quality is just as good if not better then what I would see at the drive in. It’s really stupid for entertainment to blame the internet.. if you blame anything blame technology & not what I do with that technology.I can’t even remember the last good movie.. I just wait till it comes on Pay Per Vew.. end of story.

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