Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at 1:46 pm.

Remembering the last time the web went dark

If you’ve spent time on the Internet today, you’ve probably noticed a pretty widespread protest against SOPA and PIPA, evil government attempts to meddle with the web.

Fewer of you may remember the first big web blackout in 1996, but Vice’s Joshua Kopstein does a nice job summarizing:

The big threat to free speech on the internet back then was the Communications Decency Act. [...] On Thursday, February 1st, 1996, just as the controversial bill was being signed into law, a 48 hour protest known as Turn the Web Black broke out across the web.

I’ve been trying to find screenshots — if I recall correctly, Yahoo was one of the huge sites that turned its background black that day, or maybe it was Lycos. But I’ve actually had a tough time researching, because sites like Wikipedia, Archive.org, and Dave Winer’s Scripting.com are all down today (to varying degrees) in protest.