Site goes down for a day while internet firms join mounting pressure on US lawmakers.

Wikipedia blackout leads web SOPA protests

As promised, Wikipedia has taken the English language site down for 24-hours in protest at the pending US SOPA and PIPA anti-piracy and counterfeiting legislation which the organisation called "real threats to the free and open Internet."

At the time of writing visitors to the front page are redirected to a splash screen which says: "For over a decade, we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Right now, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet."

A number of other internet sites, although none so high profile, have also joined the protest with link sharing site Reddit and group blog Boing Boing also going offline for the day. Internet firms Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, AOL and eBay have also voiced their opposition to the legislation, if not actually taking their sites down.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales described the legislation as "poorly designed mess" while Google said "there are better ways to address piracy," while censoring their Google logo on the world’s most popular search engine and enticing Americans to sign a petition aimed at the US congress.

Despite the unprecedented publicity behind the SOPA protests, thousands of Americans were surprised by the Wednesday shutdown of Wikipedia. This Twitter user @Hepderpedia has kept a running tally of the bewilderment in the twitterverse. (NSFW)

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