Would Facebook Go Dark To Boycott Online Piracy Bill?

By Jennifer Moire Comment

We highly doubt this particular rumor would ever come true, but the blogosphere and Twitterverse are chattering that Facebook could pull the plug in protest over the Stop Online Piracy Act pending in the U.S. Congress.

Consider a day without Facebook — or Google, Twitter, Wikipedia or Yahoo, for that matter.

These heavily trafficked web sites are joining Facebook in considering a coordinated blackout as a powerful demonstration of what the Internet might look like if SOPA went into effect.

While implementation at this point seems unlikely — it’s dubbed the “nuclear option” after all — the rumor mill went into high alert after Markham Erickson, an executive with the industry trade group NetCoalition, confirmed to Fox News that companies were mulling over a blackout of services, despite what a boycott would do to users.

“Companies typically don’t want to put their users in that position,” Erickson said. “The difference is that these bills so fundamentally change the way the Internet works. People need to understand the effect this special-interest legislation will have on those who use the Internet.”

So what might a boycott look like? Would Facebook go completely dark, or would users be re-directed to a site that posted a message about SOPA. And, would Facebook ask users to take action–write a letter to a member of Congress, sign an online petition, or share a message with friends?

Actually, Facebook is a great platform to launch that type of advocacy campaign. Anti-SOPA ads and sponsored stories could be developed, and of course, the option to share links to anti-SOPA news stories would spread quickly on the social networking site and could build support against the legislation.

Opponents claim one provision of the controversial bill would require Internet providers to monitor customers’ traffic and block web sites suspected of copyright infringement, which sets off alarms among Facebook and its counterparts.

SOPA is scheduled for a debate in the U.S. Senate in late January before its put to a vote.

Readers, what would you do if Facebook went offline for a day?