Wikipedia to shut down for a day in piracy protest
But decision almost causes a row between Jimmy Wales and Twitter founder Dick Costolo
SOME of the world's most popular websites, including Wikipedia, will close down on Wednesday in protest at proposed legislation in the US designed to combat online piracy.
The English language version of the online encyclopaedia, visited by 25 million people a day, will go off line for 24 hours after the volunteers that run it decided to take action. Other sites that will be affected include Reddit and the humorous Cheezburger sites, which feature pictures of animals.
In a statement on its website, Wikipedia said the blackout was in protest at the Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) and Protect IP acts, currently under discussion by American lawmakers. It said they would "harm the free and open internet and bring about new tools for censorship of international websites inside the United States".
Visitors to the internet's sixth most popular site tomorrow will see protest messages and contact details for US politicians, which Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales (above) said he hoped would "melt phone systems in Washington".
The plan has already caused controversy and Twitter founder Dick Costolo narrowly avoided getting embroiled in a row with Wales after he was quoted by The Guardian as saying the protest was "silly".
Costolo made the comment after he and other social networking luminaries Eric Schmidt of Google and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg were asked by a journalist on Twitter if they had the "cojones" to follow Wikipedia's lead.
Schmidt and Zuckerberg (who has not tweeted for nearly two years) did not respond to the tweet but Costolo said: "That's just silly. Closing a global business in reaction to single-issue national politics is foolish."
His answer was seen by Wales who then waded in to ask Costolo what he meant. The Twitter boss immediately backtracked and said he was only talking about the idea of closing Twitter down for a day. However, when Wales asked him directly if he supported the protest he would only reiterate that his first comment was about Twitter.