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World watched as Wikipedia shut down for SOPA blackout

World watches as Wikipedia shuts down for SOPA blackout

This screenshot of the English Wikipedia landing page, as seen by millions during the blackout on January 18, 2012

Last week's 24 hour Wikipedia blackout protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act and PROTECT IP Act was heavily covered by the world's international media. A full page listing media covering of the blackout is on Meta-Wiki.

Before the protest started, Jimmy Wales gave interviews to CNN, and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live, and on BBC Two's Newsnight to debate Michael O'Leary, a representative of the Motion Picture Association of America. After the blackout concluded, the Bits blog of The New York Times interviewed Jimmy. Wikinews interviewed Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director Sue Gardner.

The blackout led Seth Borenstein at MSNBC to wonder what it would be like if the Internet went down. The article claims that for a day or so, there wouldn't be any major physical harm, but after a few days it would lead to economic crisis and mass unemployment. As a response to the blackout, The Guardian launched a blog feature called "Guardipedia", where bloggers responded to questions using printed copies of the Encyclopedia Britannica and Who's Who as an alternative to Wikipedia. The Signpost noted that the Britannica volumes were out-of-date, and were not much help in answering a question about South African history: "Apparently Nelson Mandela is still in jail? That's what the book says, anyway."

Twitterers gently mocked Wikipedia's absence with a hashtag called "#FactsWithoutWikipedia" where people made up outlandish claims. MSNBC reports on doug_gross' 'fact': "Marc Zuckerberg (real name, Horblatt Snarfleblurp) was an alien scout sent to Earth to ruin human productivity." Russia Today posted more tweets:

The meme was also taken up by a number of other news sources: Now. Here. This., the blog of Time Out London, pulled some choice London facts like "Sophie Ellis-Bextor once ran for a Lib Dem councillor seat in West London" and "Ed Miliband is a London based Alt-Folk band". quoted tweets posted under the derived hashtag #irishFactsWithoutWikipedia including "The IRA was a splinter group of The Richard and Judy Book Club that just got a bit out of hand". quoted a variety of NASCAR-related phony facts.

There was a significant amount of post-blackout coverage, with one focus on US senators who changed their minds over SOPA, as well as how SOPA and PIPA would affect the Internet as we know it.


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