MEDIATED MOBILISATION: STOP ONLINE PIRACY (SOPA) ACT

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The Stop Online Piracy Act, better known as SOPA, was a bill introduced in the House of Representatives in October 2011 that would essentially help U.S. law enforcement to combat the ongoing problem of copyright violations on the web as well as the online trafficking of pirated media. But the possible repercussions of such a bill included widespread censorship of the Internet and allow copyright holders to punish websites whose contents fall under pirated guidelines. The backlash of such a controversial act had the tech world pitted against the big entertainment conglomerates, as well as US politicians who were eager to see the bill passed.

In protest, popular sites such as Reddit, Wikipedia, Google, Mozilla, and Tumblr temporarily suspended their sites or left messages urging people to join them in opposing the proposed laws. Fight for the Future organisation who helped organize the protests said that by the end of the week, more than 115,000 Web sites participated, and three million people e-mailed Congress to voice their opposition to the bills.

What had originally started as protest by large tech giants, eventually amassed hundreds of thousands of supporters from all over the world who took to their own social media to voice their objections.

Were they successful? Oh, yes.

One by one, initial supporters of the bill began to withdraw their support. And ultimately, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared that the vote on the bill would be cancelled. As a form of media mobilisation, I daresay they were one of the most successful ones in the recent years.

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