Over the next four weeks, I’ll be observing crises in communication and analyzing what went right or wrong in my opinion. Feel free to comment your own thoughts!
Today is the Congressional vote for a bill that sparked the biggest online protest to date. Last Wednesday some websites including Google, Wikipedia (in English), Reddit and a few others blacked out their homepages or shut down to demonstrate their disapproval for the SOPA and PIPA acts. In addition, a petition was sent around by Google that spread quickly via email and social media websites.
An enormous list of names on the petition, mine included, caused some Senators to hang their hats on the bill and eventually caused the voting to be postponed until a later date. For those who believe the government is not concerned with our opinions, the proposal of this bill doesn’t bode well for Congress’ reputation. But take into consideration the changes that happened over the day:
-over 4.5 million signatures on Google’s petition
-over 25 Senators now oppose PIPA according to OpenCongress.org
-2 SOPA co-sponsors dropped support for the House bill, among others
-over 2 million tweets observed about SOPA throughout the day
-over 8 million searches conducted on Wikipedia to find local House Representatives
What does this mean?
My response to the changes that occurred throughout one day of protesting: Congress is listening. Their reactions prove that they took notice of our outrage. Another organization I have to commend for their listening skills: Google. If anyone demonstrated the best ‘two-way effective communication’, it was the team at Google.
Along with the other 4 million signatures, I received an email that was personally addressed to my first name. They got the message out about SOPA and PIPA, we responded by signing the petition, and they took the time to send a thank you note. “We are humbled that so many of you rallied around what we believe is the most transformative invention in history.” They even took it one step further to ask us to thank Congress, allowing us to input our zip code if we please– another open form of communication that allows our state and district representatives to find out where we stand locally as well as a whole. The closing “Until next time” even suggests we’ll hear from them again.
Why were the bills proposed and what is their purpose?
While the original intention of the bills is to stop online copyright infringement by allowing the government to censor the Internet, the lasting effects are what sparked the controversy and caused an online riot. The Internet is the one medium that is not censored by the government. This freedom, along with the ability to instantly connect, is what makes the Internet so popular and widely used. A flicker of Fahrenheit 451 reflected in my own eyes as I thought about what censoring the Internet would mean for the future.