Aneesh Chopra, the first White House chief of technology, has resigned after almost three years on the job.
Chopra’s resignation was announced in a post on the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s blog that did not explain why he’s leaving the Obama administration. The Washington Post reported that he is rumored to be considering a run for lieutenant governor in Virgina.
“When President Obama came into office in January 2009, the administration found a federal government relying too heavily on 20th century technology,” John P. Holdren, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, said in the blog post. “On his first day on the job, the president created the position of ‘chief technology officer.’”
Chopra was sworn in as the first U.S. chief technology officer May 22, 2009. The job called for “looking at ways technology can spur innovations that help government do a better and more efficient job.”
Holdren said Chopra had “a dizzying array of accomplishments” while in office, which included input on crafting the president’s National Wireless Initiative, which calls for “the development of a nationwide public safety broadband network”; establishing “a set of Internet policy principles, including the call for a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights”; and leading “the implementation of the president’s open government strategy focused on unlocking the innovative potential of the federal government to solve problems and seed the jobs and industries of the future.”
Obama, who is known as a more tech-friendly president than his predecessors, said in a statement that Chopra “did groundbreaking work to bring our government into the 21st century. Aneesh found countless ways to engage the American people using technology, from electronic health records for veterans, to expanding access to broadband for rural communities, to modernizing government records.”
The White House under Obama has used technology — social media in particular — much more than previous administrations. This can be attributed to the rise in popularity of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, but Chopra may have had an influence as well.
Before his White House job, Chopra was chief technology officer for the state of Virgina. On “The Daily Show,” host Jon Stewart once jokingly called Chopra the “Indian George Clooney.”
– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: Aneesh Chopra smiles during a roundtable discussion at the 2010 International CTIA Wireless convention in Las Vegas. Credit: Ethan Miller / Getty Images
Next week's scheduled vote on the PIPA anti-piracy bill has been postponed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, handing a defeat to Hollywood and a major victory to Internet companies that launched online protests to battle the legislation and its House companion, known as SOPA.
"In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday’s vote on the Protect IP Act," Reid (D-Nev.) said Friday. He called for all sides to work together to resolve "legitimate issues" raised about the bill to crack down on foreign websites that traffic in pirated movies, music and other goods.
"Counterfeiting and piracy cost the American economy billions of dollars and thousands of jobs each year, with the movie industry alone supporting over 2.2 million jobs. We must take action to stop these illegal practices," Reid said. "We made good progress through the discussions we've held in recent days, and I am optimistic that we can reach a compromise in the coming weeks."
Wikipedia led a 12-to-24-hour blackout by more than 10,000 websites on Wednesday in protest of the proposed Protect Intellectual Property Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act. The sites directed people to contact their members of Congress, flooding Capitol Hill with calls and emails.
The bills are strongly backed by the entertainment industry and had been on a fast track to approval, with the Senate set to hold a key procedural vote on Tuesday. But the protests led several co-sponsors of the legislation to pull their support, with numerous other lawmakers vowing to oppose the legislation in its current form out of concern that it could squelch free speech on the Internet and lead to the shutdown of legitimate sites.
– Jim Puzzanghera in Washington
MegaUpload, one of the world's largest file-sharing websites, was shut down Thursday by the U.S. Department of Justice, which accused it of violating piracy and copyright laws.
In an indictment, the Justice Department alleged that MegaUpload was a "mega conspiracy" and a global criminal organization "whose members engaged in criminal copyright infringement and money laundering on a massive scale."
The Justice Department said MegaUpload, which had about 150 million users, tallied up harm to copyright holders in excess of $500 million by allowing users to illegally share movies, music and other files. Prosecutors said in the indictment that the site's operators raked in an income from it that topped $175 million.
MegaUpload was just one of the many services that allow for the easy sharing of large files online. Others include sites such as Mediafire and Rapidshare and cloud storage services that allow for shared folders such as Box.net and Dropbox.
One way MegaUpload differentiated itself was with its online marketing campaign that featured celebrities such as rapper/producers Kanye West, Lil' Jon, Sean "Diddy" Combs and Swizz Beats stating in YouTube videos why they loved using the site. Other videos feature tennis star Serena Williams, boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., Def Jam Records founder Russell Simmons and director Brett Ratner testifying to their use of MegaUpload.
The release of the Justice Department indictment came after dozens of websites, led by tech heavyweights Wikipedia, Craigslist, Mozilla and Google, altered their websites to protest two anti-piracy bills under consideration on Capitol Hill: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).
Critics of the bills say the proposed laws would give the Justice Department the ability to censor the Internet by giving the agency clearance to shut down a site without having to get court approval of an indictment, as it did with MegaUpload. Although the indictment was unsealed Thursday, it was issued by a federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia on Jan. 5, the agency said.
In a statement issued with the indictment,the Justice Department said "this action is among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States and directly targets the misuse of a public content storage and distribution site to commit and facilitate intellectual property crime."
The Justice Department said that at its request, authorities arrested three MegaUpload executives — officially employed by two companies, Megaupload Ltd. and Vestor Ltd. — in New Zealand, including the site's founder, Kim Dotcom, who was born Kim Schmitz. The agency is also looking to arrest two additional executives.
The indictment charges the two companies with running a "racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to commit copyright infringement, conspiring to commit money laundering and two substantive counts of criminal copyright infringement."
According to the Associated Press, before the MegaUpload site was shut down Thursday, a statement was posted on the site saying the allegations made against it were "grotesquely overblown" and that "the vast majority of Mega's Internet traffic is legitimate, and we are here to stay. If the content industry would like to take advantage of our popularity, we are happy to enter into a dialogue. We have some good ideas. Please get in touch."
Visits to Megaupload.com on Thursday showed the website as unable to load. The Justice Department had ordered the seizure of 18 domain names it linked to the alleged wrongdoing.
[Updated at 3:42 p.m.: As noted by Times reporter Ben Fritz on our sister blog Company Town, the hacker group Anonymous has allegedly lobbed a denial-of-service attack that has temporarily taken down the websites for the Department of Justice and Universal Music as a move in retaliation for the shutdown of MegaUpload. Forbes is reporting that the same attack has struck the sites for the Recording Industry of America and the Motion Picture Assn. of America.]
[Updated at 3:50 p.m.: The Twitter accounts @YourAnonNews and @AnonOps are taking credit on behalf of Anonymous for the web attacks on the websites of the Justice Department, Recording Industry of America, Motion Picture Assn. of America and Universal Music.]
A day after a widespread Internet protest, key opponents of SOPA and PIPA warned Thursday that the controversial online piracy bills are not dead yet and called for lawmakers to slow down and start over.
"It's not dead at all," said Michael Petricone, vice president of government affairs for the Consumer Electronics Assn., noting that the Senate was still scheduled to hold a procedural vote on the Protect Intellectual Property Act on Tuesday.
At a Capitol Hill news conference, Petricone and others said opponents needed to continue to pressure Congress to remove the legislation from the fast track and start a more open process to craft a narrower bill that would not threaten collateral damage on legitimate websites.
“You have all kinds of very substantive, very smart interests who are bringing up very substantive potential problems with this bill," Petricone said. "Why can’t we step back and get it right? This isn’t the Patriot Act; the country’s not going to blow up if we don’t enact this next week."
Lawmakers' ears were still ringing from the thousands of calls and emails that flooded into Capitol Hill after Wikipedia led about 10,000 websites in a 24-hour blackout Wednesday to protest the bills. At least five co-sponsors of the bills publicly pulled their support, with several others announcing they would not vote for the legislation without major changes.
The lead sponsors of the bills have promised to make changes and are expected to remove the most controversial provision, which would allow Internet service providers to block access to foreign-based piracy sites. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the lead backer of PIPA, is working on a set of amendments he plans to unveil before Tuesday's vote.
The cautions about the fight not being over were echoed by Wikipedia, whose English-language version was easily accessible again Thursday. A banner at the top of the site reads, "Thank you for protecting Wikipedia. (We're not done yet)."
"SOPA and PIPA are not dead: they are waiting in the shadows," Wikipedia said on a page linked from that banner. "We’re turning the lights back on. Help us keep them shining brightly."
Markham Erickson, who heads a coalition of Internet companies, said Congress needed to take more time to get the legislation right.
"There are solutions, but we need to step back and reset," said Erickson, whose NetCoalition includes Google Inc., Amazon.com, EBay and Yahoo Inc. "Instead of having to negotiate with a gun to our head, so to speak, let’s sit down and have a data-driven process."
He and other SOPA and PIPA opponents are looking toward legislation introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who have been two of the strongest congressional opponents of the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act.
Their Online Protection & Enforcement of Digital Trade Act, known as the OPEN Act, is a much narrower approach that would try to cut off the money to foreign piracy sites through the U.S. International Trade Commission. The entertainment industry and other supporters of SOPA and PIPA said such an approach would not be as effective in shutting down foreign piracy sites.
But opponents of SOPA and PIPA said they liked the process Issa and Wyden have used in crafting their bill. The two lawmakers released a draft last year at www.KeepTheWebOpen.com and said they revised it to reflect some of the more than 150 substantive comments and suggested improvements received from visitors to the site.
– Jim Puzzanghera in Washington
Photo: Protesters in New York on Wednesday demonstrate against the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect Intellectual Property Act. Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images
There's something awesome and kind of a folksy feeling about today's first semi-coordinated online protest against anti-piracy bills that have been circulating around Congress.
But how many people have actually been moved to action?
That's where the kind of coordinated-ness of it all gets a little annoying. Almost all of the striking websites suggest visitors take some sort of action against the bill — some recommend you get in touch with your congressional representative to express your opposition to SOPA and PIPA, others ask users to sign a petition expressing their concern over the bills.
But even these petitions are not centralized, so it's difficult to tally how many people have been moved to participate.
Here's what we have been able to gather, as of this writing:
48,882 people have liked the Against the Stop Online Piracy Act page on Facebook.
Google is reporting more than 3 million Americans have signed various petitions opposing SOPA.
51,689 signed a petition on the White House's website We the People, asking the Obama administration to veto SOPA.
1.4 million people worldwide signed a "Save the Internet" petition on the activist website Avaaz.org
BlackoutSOPA.org is reporting that 68,620 people have changed either their Twitter, Google+ or Facebook profile picture to feature an anti-SOPA message.
Fight for the Future, a nonprofit, is reporting that 75,000 sites have signed up to participate in the protest, and that between its two sites Sopastrike.com and AmericanCensorship.org, 350,000 people have sent emails sent to their two senators and their representatives.
We'll keep updating as we learn more.
– Deborah Netburn
Image: A screen shot of Google's anti-SOPA home page.
According to the New York Times, the New York Daily News, USA Today, Cnet and Mashable, hundreds (and maybe thousands) of people organized by the group New York Tech Meetup protested in person and with signs against SOPA and PIPA outside of the offices of New York Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats.
The group, which reportedly has about 20,000 members, targeted Schumer and Gillibrand for the protest because the two are co-sponsors of PIPA. The protesters, which police corralled into metal barriers on a sidewalk in front of the senators' Manhattan offices, called for Schumer and Gillibrand to withdraw their support for PIPA — a move a few politicians took on Wednesday amid the widespread online actions against the proposed laws.
While lawmakers in support of SOPA and PIPA have said that the bills are written to protect against online piracy and theft of American-made films, TV shows, music and other digital goods, those against the bills say the legislation would open the door to online censorship that would essentially ruin the free flow of information on the Web.
Andrew Rasiej, chairman of the New York Tech Meetup, told the New York Daily News that not only would SOPA and PIPA open the door to censorship of the Internet, but the laws would also have negative effects on the ability of the U.S. to remain a leader in the global tech industry.
"Because a new innovation by a start-up could be interpreted by a judge unfamiliar with how the technology works as infringing on copyright, investors and entrepreneurs would be discouraged from moving forward with a start-up due to a significantly increased risk of legal entanglement," Rasiej told the New York Daily News. "This in turn would dampen job creation and future opportunities for New Yorkers and Americans as a whole."
– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: People gather outside the offices of two U.S. senators from New York, including Sen. Charles "Chuck" Schumer, to protest against proposed laws to curb Internet piracy. Credit: Stan Honda / AFP/Getty Images
Wednesday, Jan. 18: the day of the SOPA "blackout" protest. As you may have seen from our coverage, major names in the online world such as Google, Wikipedia, Mozilla and Reddit are censoring their own websites with black bars and blacked-out pages in protest of SOPA and PIPA, two online anti-piracy bills currently under consideration on Capitol Hill.
Lawmakers who support the bills say the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act will protect the intellectual property rights of music, movie and TV studios. But the websites and tech giants taking part in the Wednesday blackout argue that SOPA and PIPA would allow for a censoring of the Internet that would forever alter the Web and what we can do, say and publish online.
And it's not just Silicon Valley that's protesting SOPA and PIPA in the day-long blackout — a few publications that cover the tech world are taking part as well, including Wired and ArsTechnica.
Here's a list of more than 30 websites (and screen shots of each) we've spotted that are protesting today in the form of full-on blackouts or even just making their anti-SOPA and anti-PIPA stances known publicly. If there are a few we've missed, feel free to let us know in the comments.
Mozilla Firefox's start page
[Updated 12:29 p.m.: GigaOm.com is also against SOPA and PIPA, and on Wednesday the news site let that stance be known.]
[Updated 2:49 p.m.: Added the Jan. 18 anti-SOPA and PIPA protests on FunnyOrDie.com, PerezHilton.com, GoDaddy.com, KnowYourMeme.com, Imgur.com, BoardgameGeek.com, Newgrounds.com, UrbanSpoon.com, DemocraticUnderground.com and JoinDiaspora.com.]
[Updated 3:15 p.m.: Added the anti-SOPA and PIPA Jan. 18 stances seen on Heritage.org, GameBreaker.tv, Pocho.com, RateYourMusic.com and SparkFun.com.]
[Updated 4:51 p.m.: Added DayTrader.com's blacked-out Jan. 18 homepage.]
Images: Screenshots (made using the Mac app LittleSnapper) of websites taking part in the Jan. 18, 2011 protests against SOPA and PIPA by either blacking out their websites, or publishing statements condemning the controversial anti-piracy bills.
Three co-sponsors of the SOPA and PIPA antipiracy bills have publicly withdrawn their support as Wikipedia and thousands of other websites blacked out their pages Wednesday to protest the legislation.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) withdrew as a co-sponsor of the Protect IP Act in the Senate, while Reps. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) and Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.) said they were pulling their names from the companion House bill, the Stop Online Piracy Act. Opponents of the legislation, led by large Internet companies, say its broad definitions could lead to censorship of online content and force some websites to shut down.
In a posting on his Facebook page, Rubio noted that after the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed its bill last year, he has "heard legitimate concerns about the impact the bill could have on access to the Internet and about a potentially unreasonable expansion of the federal government's power to impact the Internet."
"Congress should listen and avoid rushing through a bill that could have many unintended consequences," Rubio said in announcing he was withdrawing his support. While he's committed to stopping online piracy, Rubio called for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to back off plans to hold a key procedural vote on the bill on Tuesday.
Rubio's withdrawal will reduce the number of co-sponsors to 39. Last week, two other co-sponsors, Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), joined four other Senate Republicans in a letter to Reid also urging him delay the vote. But Grassley and Hatch have not withdrawn their support.
Terry and Quayle were among the 31 sponsors of the House legislation before they withdrew their support Tuesday.
Quayle still strongly supports the goal of the House bill to crack down on foreign websites that traffic in pirated movies, music, medicine and other goods.
"The bill could have some unintended consequences that need to be addressed," said Quayle spokesman Zach Howell. "Basically it needs more work before he can support it."
Terry said that he also had problems with the House bill in its current form and would no longer support it.
Wikipedia, Reddit and about 10,000 other websites blacked out their pages Wednesday with messages warning of the dangers of the legislation and urging people to contact their congressional representatives. Howell said Quayle's office had not seen a major increase in calls or emails Wednesday, but that the piracy bills have been the main issue in recent weeks for people contacting the office.
There has been a "manageable increase" in visits to House member websites Wednesday, said Dan Weiser, a spokesman for the House office of the chief administrative officer.
"It’s possible some users will see a short delay or slow loading of a member's web page," he said.
– Jim Puzzanghera in Washington
Photo: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Credit: Joe Burbank / Orlando Sentinel
Wikipedia is the biggest name among the approximately 10,000 websites that pledged to go dark Wednesday in a broad Internet protest of the SOPA and PIPA online anti-piracy bills. But word has quickly spread about how to circumvent the blackout.
Visitors to Wikipedia's English-language site — either directly to its homepage or via a link from a search engine query — are diverted in seconds to a dark page that asks people to "Imagine a world without free knowledge." There's a couple of sentences about threat from the bills, and a box to enter your ZIP code to help contact your member of Congress about the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect-IP Act.
Mashable.com lists a couple of ways to bypass the blackout screen and get to Wikipedia's pages.
The easiest is to go to Wikipedia's mobile version, which is not being blacked out. You don't have to use a mobile device to do it. The mobile version is available via your Web browser at en.m.wikipedia.org.
There's a black bar at the top that notes the piracy protest, but the rest of the site is fully accessible.
Another easy workaround is the Simple English version of Wikipedia, which is designed for children and adults learning the language. It's not as extensive as Wikipedia's main site, but could be helpful for youngsters working on school projects.
The Village Voice offers another alternative. Wikipedia's foreign-language sites — with dozens of options, from Afrikaans to Zeêuws — are not participating in the blackout and are open for surfing if you're multilngual or have quick access to Rosetta Stone.
– Jim Puzzanghera in Washington
Photo: A laptop in London shows Wikipedia's protest page on Wednesday. Credit: Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images
One day before major players in the online community plan to launch a virtual protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) making its way through Congress, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) issued a statement saying the committee will delay its markup of the bill until February.
But Smith said the delay is unrelated to Wikipedia's announcement that it would black out its English sites for 24 hours, or to Reddit's decision to black out its site for 12 hours, or to Google's announcement that it will place a link on its homepage to highlight its opposition to the bill.
In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Smith said the delay was because of Republican and Democratic retreats scheduled for the next few weeks.
Then he reiterated his commitment to sending the bill to the White House.
"To enact legislation that protects consumers, businesses and jobs from foreign thieves who steal America's intellectual property, we will continue to bring together industry representatives and Members to find ways to combat online piracy," Smith said. “I am committed to continuing to work with my colleagues in the House and Senate to send a bipartisan bill to the White House that saves American jobs and protects intellectual property."
– Deborah Netburn
Photo: Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.), left, and Lamar Smith (R-Texas) are members of the House Judiciary Committee. Credit: Alex Wong AFP/Getty Images
What does an Internet strike look like? You're about to find out.
Wikipedia, Reddit, BoingBoing and hundreds of other websites have pledged to go dark Tuesday night to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) — two anti-piracy bills that are currently making their way through Congress.
"This is an extraordinary action for our community to take," said Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales in a statement Monday announcing Wikipedia's decision to go dark. "While we regret having to prevent the world from having access to Wikipedia for even a second, we simply cannot ignore the fact that SOPA and PIPA endanger free speech both in the United States and abroad, and set a frightening precedent of Internet censorship for the world."
Wikipedia — the Web's fifth-most popular property with 470 million monthly users — is the largest Web entity to declare its intent to go dark, but it joins many other websites that have already pledged to shut down for 12 to 24 hours to draw attention to legislation that they say will hasten the end of the free Internet.
Reddit was one of the trailblazers of the blackout movement, declaring its intent to go dark on Jan. 10. Two days later, Ben Huh, chief executive of Cheezburger, which has a network of 50 sites including the seminal ICanHasCheezburger as well as Fail Blog, Know Your Meme and the Daily What, said his sites would be joining the strike.
Blackouts are not the only types of protest you'll find online Wednesday. Google announced Tuesday that, while its search engine will continue to function, the company will place a link on its home page to highlight its opposition to the bills.
“Like many businesses, entrepreneurs and Web users, we oppose these bills because there are smart, targeted ways to shut down foreign rogue websites without asking American companies to censor the Internet,” Samantha Smith, a Google spokeswoman, said in an email Tuesday. “So tomorrow we will be joining many other tech companies to highlight this issue on our U.S. home page.”
And Scribd, which claims to be the world's largest online repository of documents, said visitors to its website would find a pop-up roadblock Wednesday in protest of SOPA and PIPA that will lead to a call to action and an online petition.
Craigslist started its protest early. A starred section at the top of the site urges users to "help put a stop to this madness" and links to a page dedicated to the topic.
– Deborah Netburn
Image: The Wikipedia home page.
Wikipedia is among hundreds of websites that will be showing just how they feel about SOPA by going dark Wednesday.
The English-language version of Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, will be shut down for 24 hours in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act and PIPA, the Protect Intellectual Property Act, now working their way through Congress.
Jimmy Wales, site co-founder, told the BBC's Martha Kearney on Tuesday morning that "tomorrow from midnight Washington D.C. time until midnight the entire day of Wednesday, we're going to blank out" the English version of Wikipedia and post a message of protest.
He told Kearney that the legislation makes "something like Wikipedia essentially impossible … if the provider has to police everything that everyone is doing on the site."
Websites taking part in the so-called SOPA Strike include Mozilla, Reddit, WordPress and Boing Boing.
Twitter was hopping Tuesday morning with the news:
From the BBC's Philippia Thomas: "#Twitter chief says 'Closing a global business in reaction to a single-issue national politics is foolish'. How about that #Wikipedia?"
Greenpeace tweeted: " 'We're sorry, you're not allowed to read this.' Join us in saying no to corporate censorship of the internet."
The MPAA and others who support the law say the Internet operators have it all wrong. As the Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday:
The Motion Picture Assn. of America and others driving the legislation said real progress had been made toward creating a law that would protect intellectual property. The advocates said misinformation is inflaming passions on the Web while doing nothing to solve the problem of piracy.
– Amy Hubbard
Photo: Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales in 2011. Credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth / Associated Press
As Republicans focused on the Iowa caucuses and President Barack Obama made a pitch to Iowans of his own over streaming video on Tuesday, the Obama 2012 reelection campaign took its message to Instagram.
The president's campaign staff, which is also looking to reach voters on Tumblr and Google+ (along with a few Republican rivals), has posted two photos thus far, both of the president speaking with Iowa's caucus voters via video chat, making his case for another term in the White House.
Although Instagram — a photo-sharing app known for retro filters that allows people to share photos with one another from their iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads — is new territory for Obama, the move by his 2012 campaign shouldn't come as a surprise.
In the 2008 election, Obama's team was so well known for its use of Twitter, Facebook and blogging to help build up an overwhelming amount of support that the Technology blog described Obama as "the first social media President." And over the last four years, the White House has made great use of the photo-sharing site Flickr.
Instagram, which has seen its more than 5-million users share more than 150-million photos, said in a company blog post that it is "excited to welcome President Barack Obama to Instagram" and that it looks "forward to seeing how President Obama uses Instagram to give folks a visual sense of what happens in the everyday life of the President of the United States."
The Obama 2012 campaign is also looking for supporters to share their photos with the @BarackObama Instagram account by tagging their photos with "#obama2012," Instagram said.
The company also made sure to point out that political coverage on Instagram has been on the rise over the last year as the 2012 presidential election gets closer.
"News organizations such as NBC News, ABC World News and the Washington Post have been sharing behind-the-scenes photos at debates and town hall meetings across the country, offering a unique look into the 2012 elections," Instagram said.
Among the most interesting photos shared so far by news organizations covering the election on Instagram would have to be Washington Post reporter Philip Rucker's shot of Republican hopeful Mitt Romney typing on his Apple iPad in an airport.
— Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Image: A screen shot of President Barack Obama's first Instagram photo. Credit: Obama 2012 / Instagram
The social networking site said Wednesday that its "Facebook Political Team" looked at some of the top sources for political news and what stories received the most traffic from Facebook through friend shares, pages and social plug-ins such as the "like" button.
The top 40 stories came from newspapers, television news shows and blogs and "represent the type of political news people have been sharing and discussing with their Facebook friends this year," the tech company said.
Coming in at No. 1: "Open letter to that 53% guy," in which an Occupy supporter responds to a former Marine who posted a photo of himself telling Occupy supporters to, among other things, "Suck it up you whiners." The story has been shared 585,000 times, "liked" on Facebook 150,000 times and has nearly 600 comments on the Daily Kos, a political blog.
Facebook's list wasn't all economy and wars, though. It also contained some light-hearted stories, including First Lady Michelle Obama's visit to a middle school in which she danced the dougie and running man (No. 6), the Obamas shopping at a Target (No. 29) and lobbyists succeeding at getting pizza classified as a vegetable in schools (No. 38).
Here's the full list:
1. Daily Kos: Open Letter to that 53% Guy
2. Washington Post: Obama's and Bush’s effects on the deficit in one graph
3. FOX News: Should U.S. Get Involved in Syria?
4. CNN: Osama bin Laden, the face of terror, killed in Pakistan
5. Salon: "USA! USA!" is the wrong response
6. Huffington Post: Michelle Obama Dances 'The Dougie' & 'The Running Man'
7. Huffington Post: Obama's Birth Certificate Through The Eyes Of A Birther
8. CNN: Think Occupy Wall St. is a phase? You don't get it
9. Huffington Post: Sarah Palin's PAC Puts Gun Sights On Democrats She's Targeting In 2010
10: MSNBC: Anti-gay marriage group fakes support with doctored photos
11. Huffington Post: Conservative Pie: Republicans Introduce Legislation Redefining Pi
12.Huffington Post: Westboro To Picket Funerals Of Arizona Shooting Victims
13. MSNBC: Web's bin Laden 'death photo' (just the photo) is fake
14. LA Times: Michele Bachmann is worried about the Renaissance
15. Huffington Post: Senate Votes To Let Military Detain Americans Indefinitely
16. FOX News: White House Condemns Possible Execution of Iranian Pastor
17. Huffington Post: Everything The Media Told You About Occupy Wall Street Is Wrong
18. FOX News: Usama Bin Laden Killed in Firefight With U.S. Special Ops Team in Pakistan
19. CNN: Arizona enacts funeral protest legislation
20. FOX: 'Occupy Wall Street' — It's Not What They're for, But What They're Against
21. LA Times: Lara Logan breaks her silence on '60 Minutes'
22. The Blaze: Adam Carolla on Occupy Movement: '[Expletive] Self-Entitled Monsters'
23. MSNBC: In the ruins of Gadhafi's lair, rebels find album with photos of Condoleezza Rice
24. CNN: Soldier leaves a legacy much larger than 'he was gay.'
25. Slate: Pentagon's top secret cat warfare exposed
26. CNN: Middle class backlash at Occupy Wall Street protesters
27. Weekly Standard: Obama bans asthma inhalers over environmental concerns
28. Slate: Clarence Thomas writes one of the meanest Supreme Court decisions ever
29. Good Morning America: Obamas go shopping at Target
30. CNN: Who owns America? Hint: It's not China.
31. Huffington Post: UC Davis protesters arrested, pepper sprayed
32. FOX News: Should the American flag be banned in America?
33. Huffington Post: UC Davis police officer pepper sprays nonviolent protesters
34. LA Times: Arnold Schwarzenegger acknowledges paternity of child out of wedlock
35. MSNBC: U.S. Forces kill Osama bin Laden in Pakistan
36. MSNBC Video: Obama announces the death of Osama bin Laden from White House
37. CNN: Obama announces the death of Osama bin Laden
38. Huffington Post: Lobbyists succeed in categorizing pizza as a vegetable in schools
39. MSNBC: Lobbying firm memo spells out plan to undermine Occupy Wall Street
40. Wall Street Journal: How to Tax the Rich
– Andrea Chang
Photo: An Occupy Wall Street demonstrator in New York in November. Credit: Brendan McDermid / Reuters