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AT&T is Apparently Filtering/Blocking 4chan for Many Customers

July 26, 2009

Update: AT&T Restores Access (for now) to 4chan

As if AT&T wasn’t already bad enough. In an act that is sure to spark internet rebellions everywhere, AT&T has apparently declared war on the extremely popular imageboard 4chan.org, blocking some of the site’s most popular message boards, including /r9k/ and the infamous /b/. m00t, who started 4chan and continues to run the site, has posted a note to the 4chan status blog indicating that AT&T is in fact filtering/blocking the site for many of its customers (I’re still trying to confirm from AT&T’s side).

AT&T doesn’t seem to like 4chan, though. According to the Los Angeles Metblogs, AT&T DSL (NOTE: if you use this service, please leave a comment below stating if you can access it or not! Thanks!) users are unable to access anything on the img.4chan.org subdomain if they live in Southern California. It looks like a censorship battle is brewing, especially since 4chan users are aware of the apparent block by AT&T.

The LA Metblogs has compiled several sources that apparently confirm AT&T has blocked img.4chan at the ISP level, including reports from multiple Twitter users who cannot access 4chan and even calls to their help desk. While we cannot confirm this news (or if true whether AT&T did this on purpose), it’s still a troubling report, especially if you believe this is censorship by a major ISP. The 4chan ban doesn’t seem to affect AT&T Wireless (ie. your iPhone) or most regions.

Reports of the blocking began to surface on reddit this afternoon, and a number of blogs are beginning to pick up on the story, though it doesn’t seem like any have managed to get a comment from AT&T (I’ve reached out to the company and will update once we hear back).

4chan has been called many things, most of which aren’t particularly flattering. Some parts of the site are entirely unmoderated, leading to a wild-west, highly NSFW environment where irreverance, mischief, and lewdness thrive. But that doesn’t mean the site isn’t extremely influential on web culture. Many of its exploits are famous, including taking over the Time 100 list, and it’s also where some of the Internet’s most famous memes got their start, including the Rick Roll and LOLcats. It’s also known as the main hub for Anonymous, a group that has held a very public campaign against Scientology.

In other words, AT&T has just opened perhaps the most vindictive, messy can of worms it could have possibly found. Blocking any site is an extreme breach of user trust, but the decision to block 4chan in particular just seems stupid. Expect the web equivalent of rioting if this doesn’t change soon.

Are you an AT&T customer and having problems reaching 4chan? How will 4Chan react? Could this all be a possibly giant publicity stunt orchestrated by 4chan (it’s possible)?

Remember, if you can confirm this, please contact me or leave a comment!

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