AT&T and 4chan fuss gets ugly, then despicable

On Sunday AT&T blocked access to portions of 4chan.org, an image-board Web site that allows users to post uncensored images and content anonymously

When goliath AT&T went mano-a-mano with a tiny site called 4chan.org, perhaps AT&T didn't realize what it's like to start a fight online. Things have gone from bad to worse to downright despicable ever since AT&T, in a move it said was meant to protect one of its customers from a Web-based attack, blocked access to the 4chan site. Here is what happened.

On Sunday AT&T blocked access to portions of 4chan.org, an image-board Web site that allows users to post uncensored images and content anonymously. Soon after the blockade was detected by 4chan.org its founder Christopher "Moot" Poole posted a statement to the 4chan site complaining about AT&T's actions and urged 4chan users to "call or write (AT&T) customer support and (AT&T) corporate immediately" to complain about the blocking.

Next, in a statement posted to its Web site Monday, AT&T claims that one of its customers was affected by a DoS (denial of service) from multiple IP addresses related to the 4chan image-board Web site. AT&T has subsequently lifted the block on 4chan (/b/ & /r9k/) and says it continues to monitor for DoS activity.

Interestingly enough, and raising serious Net neutrality issues, is the fact that Poole claimed on his site's status blog AT&T never contacted him regarding the blockade. To some 4chan users and Net neutrality advocates the blockade had the appearance that AT&T may be blocking 4chan because of content posted on the site, and not for security issues. That is claim AT&T loudly disputes.

Late on Sunday, sometime midway through the ban, a report surfaced on both CNN iReport and Digg claiming that AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson was dead (thank you Businessinsider for the image). It's not clear whether this was a 4chan users prank. The iReport suggested Stephenson was found "delirious" outside his home after a party with "male dancers everywhere and the best blow west of Mississippi."

The prank report also said Stephenson went into a coma in transit, probably due too massive cocaine use. The CNN iReport was taken down shortly after it emerged, although several hundred users voted for the story on Digg.com. Shortly after, personal contact details of AT&T senior staff appeared online, with users being encouraged to contact them regarding the 4chan block.

In today's statement, AT&T said it didn't block 4chan because of the uncensored and unfiltered content it features and insisted malicious traffic was to blame.

Poole Says AT&T is Not Sinister

Poole has posted an update to the saga on his 4chan site's blog. He is toning down his rhetoric explaining the AT&T and 4chan blockade was all a big mix up. He explains that in 4chan's effort to thwart a DDoS attack against 4chan (not AT&T) it unintentionally created the appearance to AT&T network administrators that it was the source of a DDoS attack. Now Poole says he doesn't blame AT&T for blocking access to 4chan stating in the blog entry: "In the end, this wasn't a sinister act of censorship, but rather a bit of a mistake and a poorly executed, disproportionate response on AT&T's part."

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