Wikipedia founder calls for social media strike

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US Declaration of Independence

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The strike has been called to coincide with the US Independence Day holiday

People are being urged to stop using social media for up to 48 hours later this week in an effort to pressure the networks into restoring control of personal data to users.

The call to strike has been issued by Dr Larry Sanger – a co-founder of the Wikipedia online encyclopaedia.

In his call to action, Dr Sanger said the strike – from 4 to 5 July – would show the “massive demand” for change.

However, some people have questioned how much impact the strike will have.

Those taking part will avoid social networks on those two days to show they have a “serious grievance” against the services.

Big changes

“We’re going to make a lot of noise,” wrote Dr Sanger in a blog setting out his reasons for calling the two-day boycott.

“We’re going to flex our collective muscles and demand that giant, manipulative corporations give us back control over our data, privacy, and user experience,” he said.

The more people who join, said Dr Sanger, the more it will show how dissatisfied people are with the current situation.

Dr Sanger hopes that the strike will prompt changes at the large social networks, which will then grant people more control over their data.

He also hopes the networks become more open and interoperable so that a post made on one service can show up on others.

“This is how social media should have been developed from the beginning, rather than walled off in separate, competing networks,” he said.

Those striking are also being asked to sign the Declaration of Digital Independence drafted by Dr Sanger.

The Declaration calls for social networks to be decentralised and turned into systems that respect the rights of free speech, privacy and security.

The BBC has contacted the Internet Association, which represents social networks, for its reaction to Dr Sanger’s call.

The strike call has circulated widely on Reddit, Twitter and several other networks. Dr Sanger has asked supporters to spread the word on Facebook as he maintains no presence on that network.

Despite the growing interest in the strike, some questioned its impact.

On the Hacker News list that shares tech headlines one commenter said: “I feel that even if everybody who cared went on strike, the difference in daily visitors would probably be in the error margin.”

They added: “I think most people who really care have already left the centralised social media or scaled it down to the point that a non-strike day is an exception.”



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