Where do the Internet’s most deadly viruses, filthiest porn, and sophomoric pranks come from? The Daily Beast’s Douglas Rushkoff goes inside the underground site Web giants can’t kill.
When AT&T recently blocked access to a hugely popular hackers’ Web site, 4chan.org, many of us Internet old-timers froze in place. It was like one of those bad Westerns, when an arrogant newcomer sits down in the saloon, and then insults the baddest, most trigger-happy gunslinger in the county. People move to the side of the room, climb under tables, and wait for the shots to fly.
The 4Chan community—a diehard, if ever-changing assortment of the Net’s most-desperate, most-anonymous, and most-wanted, well, punks—smelled censorship, top-down control, and an evil corporation trying to keep down the world’s last squat for hackers. They went batshit. The site’s founder posted a note telling his minion’s to write and complain to AT&T, and the dog whistle having been heard, a posse called “Project AT&T,” quickly formed, dedicated to revenge.