Some people are wondering whether the shutdown of Megaupload is some kind of response to the internet’s collective show of strength on Wednesday, when many sites blacked out in protest at SOPA and PIPA. Some even argue that Anonymous has been goaded into wasting the goodwill that built up during Wednesday’s protest. Could that be right?
The argument that the goodwill built up in the fight against SOPA and PIPA could be squandered by Anonymous is pretty much nonsense. The vast majority of people are smart enough to recognise that ‘the internet’ is not a single unit, and Anonymous was barely visible during the SOPA / PIPA protests. Sure, some people might be politically motivated to try to make a link, but they would be unlikely to succeed.
Then there’s the idea that the Anonymous-led counterstrike against various US government websites is a kind of hooligan act. That’s the sort of argument that sounds good, but falls apart under scrutiny. It’s the same kind of logic that’s used to claim that any kind of protest that isn’t ‘authorised’ is an act of hooliganism. Language like this is damaging and bovine. Shouldn’t we try to think just a little more rather than resort to such garbage?
The Anonymous counterstrike in response to the Megaupload takedown is a case of people being angry at what they perceive at an abuse of power and an abuse of process. Sure, those Anonymous members could have kept their fingers off the DDOS buttons and instead written letters to their political respresentatives. Do you think that would have worked? I’m not saying DDOS is ‘good’, but I’m saying that people want to be heard. If you don’t listen to them, they start looking for a megaphone.