How does that old Jim Croce song go?
You don't tug on Superman's cape. You don't spit into the wind. You don't pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger. And you don't mess around with 4chan. But apparently that's exactly what AT&T has done, and the fireworks have already started.
[ This isn't the first time 4chan has stirred the pot. Find out what hijinks they allegedly perpetrated with Wikipedia and Twitter | Stay up to date on Robert X. Cringely's musings and observations with InfoWorld's Notes from the Underground newsletter. ]
4chan is a rogue state unto itself, a loose collective of Internet miscreants whose pranks are generally juvenile, sometimes disgusting, often ingenious, and occasionally hilarious.
Among other things, 4chan is associated with the Anonymous campaign against the Church of Scientology, gaming Time.com's "100 most influential" geeks to land one of its leading lights at No. 1, establishing national "porn day" on YouTube, the "#gorillapenis" Twitter scam, and the LOLcats and Rickrolling memes. That's just the short list.
Its only organizational principle appears to be anarchy, and if 4chan had a motto it would probably be Stick It to Da Man.
Da man in the latest case is Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, who earned the group's ire after AT&T blocked 4chan's notorious /b/ image boards yesterday morning, followed by the entire site 12 hours later. (More details of a NSFW nature can be found on the Encyclopaedia Dramatica wiki.)