Wikipedia will black out its Web site on Wednesday to protest SOPA, a version of anti-piracy legislation that’s being considered by Congress.
Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales made the announcement on Twitter on Monday, saying the site would shut down English versions of the crowd-sourced online encyclopedia at midnight Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday until midnight on Wednesday.
Wales and other SOPA opponents hope to draw attention to language in SOPA that, according to some, is too broad and could hurt free speech and innovation.
Wikipedia is not alone in its plans for a blackout. Reddit and the Cheezburger network that includes sites like The Daily What and Fail Blog also plan to shut down to protest SOPA. The document service Scribd already made a billion pages vanish. Craigslist boasts a notice on their frontpage saying “Stop SOPA and PIPA. [The bills] are threatening Craigslist and the rest of your Internet. Most of the web sites you use strongly oppose these bills.”
The online protests are changing the debate.
Over the weekend, the White House hinted that it would oppose the current version of the bill. And key sponsors are stepping away from its most controversial aspects.
If Wikipedia blacks out as promised, Wales expects an estimated 25 million daily visitors to be affected. His advice for students who might rely on the site: “Do your homework early.”