Popular Web Sites Shut Down Today in Protest

WordPress.org, Craigslist, Wikipedia, Moveon.org, Reddit, and Firefox browser creator Mozilla are among more than a dozen Web sites that are going dark on Wednesday for a 24-hour period to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), which critics say threaten free speech on the Internet. 

The antipiracy legislation is a move by Congress to crack down on the sales of pirated U.S. products overseas. But U.S. Web site makers say that the legislation infringes on their freedom of speech and could have potential widespread, negative effects for Internet users. 

“The proposed bills pave the way for authorities to shut down Web sites accused of online privacy — something that concerns huge sites like Google, Twitter, and others,” Fox News reports.

Google, Twitter, and Facebook — who also are strongly opposing SOPA — say they will not be participating in Wednesday’s blackout. However, at midnight Eastern time Wednesday, Google blacked out its logo on its home page in protest. Visitors who click on the blacked-out logo will be directed to more information about the protest. 

The 24-hour blackout starting Wednesday on more than a dozen web sites is expected to detour millions of Internet users. 

“We want to give people a visceral example of what would happen when content is blocked,” Rob Beschizza, managing editor of the blog Boing Boing, told USA Today. The blog will be shutting down Wednesday, giving visitors an error message that explains the protest.

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