In a powerful show of strength for social media and technology leaders, the online community derailed, at least temporarily, major legislation that had garnered significant support among Washington politicians and lobbyists.
Last week, Congress was scheduled to vote on two bills aimed at combating illegal downloading and streaming of movies and TV shows on the internet-the House's Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Senate's Protect IP Act (PIPA). However, bloggers, Twitter users and social media giants like Google united against the bills because of fears the legislation would give media companies too much power and constitute internet censorship. The online pressure was so strong that despite efforts from 115 companies and organizations that had lobbyists working on the bills, both houses of Congress announced on January 20 they would postpone the legislation.
For the week of January 16-20, the protests over the piracy legislation was the No. 1 subject on both blogs and Twitter, according to the New Media Index from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. And on both types of social media, there was overwhelming agreement that the bills would be detrimental to freedom on the web. In a related finding, the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found that nearly one-quarter (23%) of adults between the ages of 18 and 29 followed the SOPA battle more closely than any other topic last week, making it a bigger story among that youthful demographic than the presidential race.
Read the full report, Social Media Win a Big One in Washington, on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.