Save the Internet – epicenter.works
Year of production: 2020
The Initiative on saving the Internet is an example of good outreach and (online) civic action. This campaign has been organised to protest against Article 13 of the EU Directive that wanted to introduce upload filters. These filters could block everything people share on platforms in cases where copyright might be violated. For example, automatic filters could block creativity online, as they could block memes, parodies or reviews. How and why? People on the Internet could use one small part of certain material (e.g. if someone is making a film review, they will probably use some short clips) and upload filters would block this automatically. With such restrictions, only big players in the industry could comply with the terms.
In order to create a successful campaign, organisers identified target groups, used several communication channels, including Discord (for the gaming community) and shaped easy to understand messages, which revolved around what the future Internet could look like and the potential consequences. Several posters were created with messages directed towards members of the European Parliament. Some of the messages were:
- We are not bots, we are voters!
- If you vote for upload filters, we will not vote for you!
- EU elections 2019: We will only vote for politicians who vote against Article 13 and say no to upload filters!
Young people in particular participated in the initiative and have signed online petitions, pressured members of the European Parliament on social media and even called them at their offices to discuss the issue. The petition was signed by more than 5 million supporters.
The campaign was implemented by non-profit organisation epicenter.works with partner organisations across Europe. Even though the organisation was not financed by major Internet players (e.g. Google or other web giants), they managed to draw this important issue to the attention of the wider public. In the end, unfortunately, Article 13 was implemented in the Directive. However, Article 17 was inserted, which says that the EU should discuss the best practices for cooperation between online content-sharing service providers and rightsholders. Even though the campaign did not block Article 13, it created a discussion revolving around the upload filters.
This example shows how targeted communication can enhance the success of civic actions and increase youth participation in the online sphere.