Why was the entire Wikipedia site turned off on January 18th, 2012? 

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Wikipedia turned to a self-inflicted blackout on January 18, 2012, to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) by Congress. Essentially, SOPA would have required search engines based in the United States, including Google, not to display search results for sites that allow users to illegally download copyrighted material, and not to allow sites such as PayPal to transmit funds to them. The operators of many websites, such as Google, YouTube, and Wikpedia, as well as many others, opposed the law on the grounds that it constituted censorship. They also feared the implications of essentially being held accountable for enforcing the law. Wikipedia was not alone in its protest, with Google blacking out its logo and many other sites including requests to contact Congress and voice their opposition. A committee vote on the bill was postponed, and it remains on the table awaiting revision. 

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