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In response to the introduction of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect I.P. Act (PIPA), the popular aggregation site/self-proclaimed "front page of the internet" Reddit announced that it will shut down all orders of operation on Wednesday, January 18th.
This means no news, no memes, no funny videos, no rage-faces, and ― my God ― no kitty pictures. Reddit is considered one of the strongest online communities ― banded together in unity, while lighter on the cynicism than 4chan. In the past, they've organized protests, started Random_Acts_Of_Pizza (which sends pizza to less fortunate, hungry people), and launched (for better or worse) terrible YouTube videos to fame.
The SOPA act would allow the U.S. Department of Justice to criminalize websites that use copyrighted material, and blacklist them from the internet. Basically, nearly every fun website would be subject to investigation and your time online would be limited to playing solitaire, Minesweeper, and changing your desktop background over and over.
During the blackout, Reddit will be streaming the Congressional hearings about SOPA, while displaying statements about how the legislation could hurt the internet. A panic on par with Y2K could happen. Okay, maybe it would be a little less catastrophic than that ― but undoubtedly it would cause a major dent. It's nothing to hoard jugs of water over, but you know that angry feeling you get when you try to watch a video and are met with: "Due to copyright infringement, you are unable to watch this video?" That's what we'd be dealing with, a thousandfold.