American ISP giant AT&T has incited a storm of criticism for blocking parts of Futaba Channel clone 4chan, with users launching a hateful campaign against the company’s “censorship”, even as it appears that the move was a technical measure taken in relation to sustained DDoS attacks against the site.
Users of 4chan’s notorious /b/ boards began reporting connection issues to the img.4chan.org server which powers that particular board, though initially this was restricted to certain areas of the AT&T network. Soon the blocks spread, and AT&T customer service supposedly confirmed the block was in place.
Apparently, AT&T’s rationale for blocking the server in question is mitigating the effects of a DDoS attack against it. Certainly, from an ISP’s perspective much of 4chan is a frequent target for such attacks (due to the nature of the userbase), and also serves to originate them; the principal cause of downtime for 4chan also appears to be attacks on it.
This discussion explains matters:
There has been alot of customers on our network who were complaining about ACK scan reports coming from 18.104.22.168.
We had no choice but to block that single IP until the attacks let up. It was a decision I made with the gentleman that owns the colo facility currently hosts 4chan.
There was no other way around it. I’m sure AT&T is probably blocking it for the same reason. 4chan has been under attack for over 3 weeks, the attacks filling up an entire GigE.
If you want to blame anyone, blame the script kiddies who pull this kind of stunt.
Senior Network Engineer
unWired Broadband, Inc.
Whilst blocking sections of a network in order to eliminate or isolate such attacks is standard practice, desperate 4channers have immediately attempted to curry sympathy by proclaiming the issue one of free speech versus evil corporate censorship.
One of the main preoccupations of most /b/ denizens, perhaps second only to posting random Photoshops or child pornography, is attempting to hack or deface sites which the groupthink of the moment deems objectionable.
Already the board and various external sites (for the sake of those blocked) are alive with talk of how best to crush AT&T’s network or customer service infrastructure in an effort to force the company to reinstate access to the site; much talk also centres on waging a terror campaign against the CEO and top executives of AT&T, who are now unfortunate enough to be having their personal details widely circulated online.
Whether this is an act of censorship based on the content of the server (which would indeed be highly reprehensible), or a transient effort to control the headache for the company’s network infrastructure which /b/ must at times represent is not completely clear, but it seems most likely to be the latter.
In either case, the hysterical response of 4chan users and their immediate resort to tactics of vandalism and intimidation hardly elicit great sympathy…