Ongoing Civic Engagement in the Stop SOPA 2012 Campaign

Alailima, Tawni
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
In late 2011 and early 2012, the Internet community came together to protest H.R. 3261, more commonly known as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). The Internet community engaged in many types of activism that ranged from blacking out their own websites to raise awareness to signing online petitions. The Stop SOPA 2012 Campaign has become a recent example of the power of online activism since the bill was tabled due to the outpouring of civic engagement against it. The main purpose of this study is to assess whether online civic engagement against SOPA effectively created a collective identity of self-identified SOPA activists that are aware of current SOPA-like legislation and intend to continue to participate against legislation that has SOPA-like components. Self-identified SOPA activists were surveyed on their political involvement protesting SOPA, their knowledge of current anti-piracy or copyright legislation, and their intentions to engage in related activities in the future. The Theory of Planned Behavior was used as a framework for the study. The findings from this study suggest that SOPA activists engaged in more online activism than offline activism. More specifically, they engaged in activities often critiqued as slacktivism due to the amount effort it takes to participate in such activities. While these online activities actually had a positive impact on the defeat of the SOPA bill, activists reported they were no longer aware of current copyright policies or SOPA-like legislation, nor do they have intentions to continue campaigning against legislation like SOPA.
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