Twitter will not join Jan. 18 SOPA/PIPA blackout — good!

twitter-logo-blackAn increasing number of popular websites will go “black” tomorrow, in protest of the “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), the sibling anti-piracy bills currently in Congress. But Twitter will not be one of them.

In response to questions about whether Twitter would join the likes of Reddit and Wikipedia in the January 18 blackout, Twitter co-founder Dick Costolo tweeted that it would be “foolish” and “silly” to shutdown a “global business in response to single-issue national politics.” Many took this to mean that Costolo believed any site that goes black (or, more likely, shows an anti-SOPA/PIPA landing page in place of normal content) over a single bill is “foolish” and “silly.” He later clarified that these adjectives only apply to Twitter going black, not any other organization.

Of course, anti-SOPA/PIPA activists want to have as many companies on board with the blackout as possible. There has been a concerted effort to get Google and Facebook to join in the protest party, but so far, they haven’t taken the bait. (Even though both companies have come out strongly against the legislation.) The more sites, the bigger the message, or so the theory goes.

Thing is, Costolo’s right; it would be foolish, silly, and counterproductive to the anti-SOPA/PIPA movement for Twitter to go offline. When Wikipedia and other sites are down tomorrow, the activists (and, more importantly, news organizations) are going to need a place to go to gauge the effects of the blackout. And no other service is better for taking he pulse of the here-and-now than Twitter.

The activists in this movement, both individuals and companies, need a way to communicate with each other, and with the people who are suddenly met with a splash page on Wikipedia asking them to call their senators. Not all of these people are going to be happy about not being able to get what they want — which is, incidentally, the point of the blackout: to show the possible censorship effects if SOPA or PIPA became law — and not all are going to be sympathetic to the cause, or even grasp what the hell is going on. Luckily, Twitter will be there as resource for explaining the confusion.

Besides its usefulness to the anti-SOPA/PIPA crowd, Twitter is also used by millions of people around the globe, many of whom most certainly do not care about, and are completely unaffected by, US domestic policy. For those users, shutting down Twitter would be an injustice, not to mention highly annoying. It is for this reason that Wikipedia has limited its 24-hour blackout to English-language pages only. Still, oblivious foreigners will be affected, but the negatives are at least being limited.

Even with Twitter there to help smooth the rough edges of tomorrow’s unprecedented online activism, there’s no guaranteeing the effects of the protest will be in the favor of the activists. Public opinion has a way of doing its own thing, especially when it’s guided by untested techniques like shutting down websites.

So, will the Jan. 18 blackout be a success? Who knows. But you can be sure we’ll be checking Twitter all day to find out.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

Mobile

Smartphone makers are vomiting a torrent of new phones, and we’re sick of it

Smartphone manufacturers like Huawei, LG, Sony, and Motorola are releasing far too many similar phones. The update cycle has accelerated, but more choice is not always a good thing.
Smart Home

These accessories take your already awesome Instant Pot to a whole new level

If you're familiar with the Instant Pot, you know that this bad boy acts as a pressure cooker, rice cooker, cake maker, egg boiler, and a lot more. Here are some must-have accessories to make Instant Pot cooking even better.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to endangered cats

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Outdoors

Built to take a beating and still perform, these are the best hiking watches

A proper hiking watch should track exercise metrics and act as a navigational co-pilot during any kind of hike. Ideally, it'll even have a built-in GPS system and sensors. Here are five of the best hiking watches.
Mobile

The Palm has been revived, and is now available in the U.S. and U.K.

A reboot of the classic Palm is finally here and it's tiny. It syncs to your phone and acts as a secondary device -- with a feature to help you disconnect from technology. The Palm will be available exclusively through Verizon for $350.
Opinion

Do we even need 5G at all?

Faster phones, easier access to on-demand video, simpler networking -- on the surface, 5G sounds like a dream. So why is it more of a nightmare?
Home Theater

The Apple AirPods 2 needed to come out today. Here are four reasons why

Apple announced numerous new products at its October 30 event, a lineup that included a new iPad Pro, a MacBook Air, as well as a new Mac Mini. Here are four reasons we wish a new set of AirPods were on that list.
Computing

Razer’s most basic Blade 15 is the one most gamers should buy

Razer's Blade 15 is an awesome laptop for both gamers, streamers, professionals, and anyone else needing serious go in a slim profile, but its price is out of reach for many games. The new Blade 15 Base solves that problem with few…
Gaming

Going to hell, again. The Switch makes 'Diablo 3' feel brand-new

I've played every version of Diablo 3 released since 2012, racking up hundreds of hours in the process. Six years later, I'm playing it yet again on Nintendo Switch. Somehow, it still feels fresh.
Gaming

‘Fallout 76’ may have online multiplayer but it’s still a desolate wasteland

"Is Fallout 76 an MMO?" That depends on who you ask. Critics and players often cite its online multiplayer capabilities as a reason it qualifies. Yet calling the game an MMO only confuses matters, and takes away from what could make…
Digital Trends Live

Microsoft has #*!@ed up to-do lists on an epic scale

Microsoft has mucked up to-do lists on a scale you simply can’t imagine, a failure that spans multiple products and teams, like a lil’ bit of salmonella that contaminates the entire output from a factory.
Opinion

As Amazon turns up the volume on streaming, Spotify should shudder

Multiple players are all looking to capitalize on the popularity of streaming, but it has thus far proved nearly impossible to make a profit. Could major tech companies like Amazon be primed for a streaming take-over?
Gaming

Throw out the sandbox. ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ is a fully realized western world

Despite featuring around 100 story missions, the real destination in Red Dead Redemption 2 is the journey you make for yourself in the Rockstar's open world, and the game is better for it.
Gaming

‘Diablo Immortal’ is just the beginning. Mobile games are the future

Diablo fans were furious about Diablo Immortal, but in truth, mobile games are the future. From Apple and Samsung to Bethesda and Blizzard, we’re seeing a new incentive for games that fit on your phone.