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After AT&T Blocks Access to 4chan, 4chan Begins to Fight Back

July 27, 2009
A fake report on CNN’s iReport site alleged that AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson had been found dead.

Reports began to surface Sunday charging that AT&T had blocked broadband access to parts of the notorious (and powerful) Internet forum site 4chan. Late in the evening, a fake story surfaced on CNN’s iReport citizen journalism site alleging that AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson had been “found dead in his multimillion dollar beachfront mansion” after a cocaine overdose.

Suffice it to say that the two events are likely connected.

For those who stepped in late: 4chan is sort of like the Internet’s equivalent of a league of pirates, den of thieves, or whatever other sort of anarchic analogy you prefer. Decentralized and relying on anonymity, the participants issue large-scale pranks both online and offline, from teaming up with video site eBaumsWorld to launch the “Porn Day” campaign on YouTube to spamming Twitter’s trending topics.

But in this situation it’s not clear who fired the first shot, since there hasn’t yet been a definitive answer on what was behind the disappearance of 4chan for AT&T customers in the first place. CentralGadget.com reported it was possible that the forum had been targeted as a source of denial-of-service attacks. AT&T representative Michael Coe told CNET News via phone that the company was “looking into it” and would have an official statement shortly.

The fake iReport disappeared from CNN quickly, perhaps because it read that Stephenson was found “delirious” when “a friend called 911 after a night of what he called, ‘male dancers everywhere and the best blow west of the Mississippi.'”

Last October, iReport was the victim of a prank in which a more believable user-submitted story reported that Apple CEO Steve Jobs–who has a well-publicized history of health problems–had suffered a heart attack. It wasn’t true, but it was online long enough that Apple’s stock took a dip.

There will be more updates on this story throughout the day as more information becomes available.

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