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Friday Five: #SOPA and The New Tech PR Paradigm

PR professionals were inundated this week with news about the movement to thwart the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). On Wednesday, social forums like Wikipedia and Reddit blacked out their sites in protest of the bills. Even Google acquired 45 million signatures for its anti-SOPA petition. For many PR pros, the challenge was how to react to an issue that may affect the way communication professionals do their job.

PRSA’s inaugural “Friday Five” blog post — an analysis of the week’s big news and commentary in the PR profession — looks at various perspectives on the issue. We also examine how social media has become a vital resource for enforcing accountability among political candidates and government.

It’s time for the PR profession to join the opposition to SOPA and PIPA (Shel Holtz / A Shel of My Former Self)

PR pro and blogger Shell Holtz raised the banner that PR pros should take a stand against any legislation that threatens the freedom of expression on the Net. Holtz notes that SOPA will have a large impact on anyone who uses social media tools to communicate, including PR pros. It’s become very easy to post a video from YouTube or share photos with friends via Slideshare.  However, under SOPA, Internet service providers could be ordered to block the domain name, which means that once YouTube, Slideshare, or any other social domain goes dark, your links and pictures on Facebook and Twitter will go dark as well. So where do we draw the line between social governance and blacking out a person’s ability to do their job?

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Analyzing Wikipedia’s Day of Protest (Media Decoder / The New York Times)

Report David Carr and Brian Stelter detail the ongoing battle over anti-piracy regulation. While copyright holders and big media companies fight for the protection of their content, social media enthusiasts and Internet companies view this as over indulgence in censorship, with the potential to curb innovation on the Web. Already, we’re seeing how these anti-SOPA protests are affecting the prospects of the legislation, with The New York Times reporting Friday that the Motion Picture Association of America, which is one of the biggest backers of the anti-piracy legislation, expressing a willingness to meet with Silicon Valley reps to hash out a possible compromise.

Wikipedia Blackout Wednesday (Edelman Digital)

Edelman picked up a blog post by Matt Churchill that challenged Twitter’s lack of involvement when it came to Wednesday’s SOPA blackouts. A number of sites, including Wikipedia, Reddit, and Google, adopted this strategy to highlight how the bill could hinder Internet users. Twitter is a global platform and was not going to blackout in response to a national issue. Wikipedia had a little more flexibility in manipulating its global platforms and was able to shut down only the U.S. site. What would social media enthusiasts do if they were unable to tweet #SOPA or #PIPA updates?

Hashtag Feedback: Twitter & real time political accountability (Ogilvy 360 Digital Influence)

Comment and criticism via social media outlets is holding a number of businesses and organizations accountable. Twitter has become the world’s media pulse, linking businesses to the people they serve, and this includes Twitter elections, a new way to reach candidates during the debates. As the Ogilvy 360 Digital Influence blog notes, political candidates must be held accountable by every medium, including social media. Ogilvy’s Karen Untereker says, “A web army is a powerful army,” and one that all candidates must face.

Married to your business Twitter or Facebook account? Think before you say, I sue (PR 2.0)

Here’s another great example of how Twitter and Facebook are working as accountability tools. A major corporation took a celebrity to court, after the celebrity tweeted a bad review said corporation. The celebrity lost this case, bringing to light this idea of rules of engagement and the need to observe compliance practices to protect brand image and integrity.

Nicole Castro is the public relations associate at the Public Relations Society of America.

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