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Activists hold cute cat hostage for open Internet

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Mercy saved Jason Curtis’s hand Tuesday. He did not, in the name of Internet freedom, slaughter his beloved cat Webster.

That did seem a possibility, though, with savethekitten.com, a website he helped design.

Starting at noon ET on Monday, visitors to the site were subjected to utterly garish Web design; weird, ambient sound and video; and invited to sign a pledge that stated they believed in protecting a free Internet.

A meter midway down the page, labeled Webster’s Fate Gauge, went up when news about the site circulated, like whenever a signatory tweeted the URL. “Keep up the activity of a BAD thing thing will happen to him,” the site warned.

Fortunately for Webster, the site stayed active enough, or Curtis was forgiving enough, that he lived to see another day.

“Kittens are kind of the currency of the Internet,” Curtis told the Daily Dot.

“We’re fortunate enough to use the Internet largely for entertainment. This makes the analogy of whatever you’re doing to the Internet, you’re doing to kittens.”  

The site takes the “Internet loves cats” concept a step further and uses the website Petfinder to match their zip codes to kittens in their area who are available for adoption.

Twenty-five people, split between three companies (rehabstudio, Resn, and Stinkdigital, where Curtis is senior producer), created the site together. It was born of a conversation Curtis had with Reddit General Manager Erik Martin, with whom he used to work, and Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian. Those two were riding on the Internet 2012 Bus to promote Internet freedom across America when Curtis called, asking how he could help.

“Alexis told me, ‘Do something with cats,’” Curtis recalled.

So Curtis enlisted his own cat, Webster (who’s actually a girl), took photos and video of her, and the three companies together volunteered their own time and resources to put savethekitten.com together.

And while the site itself is a bit silly, he said, the message behind it is not.

“Any place where people are open sourcing things [like a free Internet] really does affect our business,” Curtis said. “We don’t want constraints on our technology.”

Screengrab via savethekitten.com