Controversial message board site 4chan claims it has been blocked by Verizon Wireless. It’s the second time it has made such a claim against a major internet provider, following on from similar accusations against AT&T last summer.
If you’ve never come across 4chan, it’s technically a collection of image-sharing boards, though one such board (known as “/b/”) has played host to a variety of notorious online pranks including the following:
- Declaring an international Porn Day and attempting to overwhelm YouTube with uploads of adult material quicker than the site could filter them out.
- Rigging TIME’s online poll for man of the year to not only get 4chan founder Christopher ‘moot’ Poole to number one, but fixing the top 22 vote getters so that the first letter of each spelt out “marblecake also the game”, which refers to the IRC channel used to organize protests against Scientology and the philosophically questionable challenge by which anyone thinking of “the game” is judged to have lost said game.
- Being either the original source or the popularizing force behind both the LOLcats and Rick-rolling memes.
- Being the site where a man claiming to have been the person responsible for hacking into Sarah Palin’s e-mail account shared his tactics.
The site has posted a message this morning on its status blog saying ” Over the past 72 hours, we’ve been receiving reports from Verizon Wireless customers having difficulty accessing the image boards. After investigating, we found that Verizon is dropping traffic to/from boards.4chan.org, only on port 80 (HTTP). No other subdomain/IP/port is affected, which leads us to believe this block is intentional.” It’s since updated to say “After an hour and a half on the phone, we’ve received confirmation from Verizon’s Network Repair Bureau (NRB) that we are “explicitly blocked.”
Verizon has yet to comment publicly on the issue itself but says it has received a large number of complaints from customers about the blocking.
Last July AT&T blocked the site briefly, with the apparent explanation being that it was being used for attempts to disrupt traffic to other sites. 4chan users began discussing possible online action against AT&T but access was restored before this was carried out.
As with the AT&T case, it’s the reasoning behind Verizon’s actions which will be most significant. If there are valid technical reasons, most people will support the move as long as the situation is resolved quickly. If, however, the blocking is because of content reasons, the issue of net neutrality as a legal principle will again come up.