With its victory against the Stop Online Piracy Act last January, the internet proved its ability to influence the halls of power. Online juggernauts Reddit, 4chan and Wikipedia, as well as thousands of other websites, all collaborated and shut down in protest.
Now the internet community is organizing further, consolidating the actvism of various groups — Anonymous, Occupy and other change-oriented sectors of the web — on one site. It's an attempt, those behind it say, to further enable political and societal transformation using the web.
UPRISER.com, using the Reddit open source code, will replace sometimes trivial subreddits with “movements”, like whistleblowing, Anonymous or Occupy. Much more than just a Reddit for activism, UPRISER CEO and author Garret LoPorto is looking to revolutionize the internet’s ability to make positive, important change.
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“We’re designing the site to be able to stay one step ahead of government’s ability to suppress free speech, government’s ability to suppress demonstrations, to be one step ahead of a corporation’s ability to disband these things,” LoPorto told GlobalPost.
Using the same technology as Reddit, users will be able to vote postings up or down, allowing the good ideas to filter to the top and the bad ideas to be pushed out of the discussion.
LoPorto hopes to not only make UPRISER a place for discussion but also a safe space for individuals to parse out the cutting edge of protest as well as the cutting edge of technology. With movements like “whistleblowers,” UPRISER may enable those with invaluable information to reveal secrets to the public.
"We'll do our best to protect people promoting social justice on UPRISER independent of how those in power feel about it. So we're probably going to need to get some smart lawyers to help keep the site on solid legal ground," Loporto said.
When sit-ins became digital through the use of DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks, authorities were quick to pounce on those behind the computer. DDoS attacks have since become illegal and authorities have doled out stuff punishments to those that use the go-to tool of digital protest.
UPRISER may enable online protest organizers to move beyond traditional DDoS attacks with further innovation into what legal means may achieve the same results.
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“One thing we’re experimenting with the site is whether or not it has to be online. Maybe there is a phone number people will want to call at the same time. Maybe there’s a sales line that some misbehaving corporation relies on for their revenue stream that everyone wants to have a sit-in around. Those kinds of things are what UPRISER is designed to facilitate the organizing of," LoPorto said.
Indeed, innovation and new technology is something UPRISING hopes to foster as well. Not just a place for activism and political discussion. Other movements on the site include education, environment, innovation and startup. Mainstreaming the cutting edge and making innovation on both political and technological fronts available to all is one of UPRISER's highest priorities.
When the term “internet activism” or “online freedom” in invoked, the public is often quick to assume the web is dominated by the left. However, UPRISER may serve as a platform to transcend traditional left-right denominations of the political spectrum. The left has no monopoly on activism, the organizers say.
“I don’t think left-leaning ideology is appropriate for the site to be bogged down in. I think that there are a significant number of libertarians and more conservative-minded people that really do want to change things for the better. This is the place to have the dialogue,” said LoPorto, adding that concerns about financial corruption must cut across all political divides.
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The initial reception for UPRISER has been positive. Individuals from both Anonymous and Occupy are involved with the construction of the site. The internet, however, is famously fickle. By definition, Anonymous has no single political policy and does not operate as a monolithic organization. Getting the internet, or at least most of it, to stand in support of any single idea is no easy task.
UPRISER’s attempts to integrate all sectors of the web and leave the discussion open and transparent, however, may be the internet’s best chance of filtering out distractions and consolidating its power as one political and social force.