Now normally, today’s blog post would be like any other in which I would continue my normal rants about jazz music and my insatiable love for it, however, judging by what occurred yesterday I cannot. Yesterday afternoon (9/19/2010), at roughly 2pm Central time, I watched in awe as members of 4Chan initiated “Operation Payback”. As per “Operation Payback”, both RIAA.com and RIAA.org were taken offline for about 9 hours. The protest, orchestrated by members of 4Chan, a simple image-based bulletin board where anyone can post comments and share images, was designed to protest the removal of Pirate Bay. Created seven years ago by a 15- year old, members of 4Chan have “managed to pull off some of the highest-profile collective actions in the history of the Internet,” although the site remains without someone at the helm. The attack was designed as a DDos attack, or a distributed denial of service, which involves making a computer resource unavailable to its intended users. A DDos attack occurs when multiple systems flood the bandwidth or resources of a targeted system, usually one or more web servers. The attack occurred following the take down of both the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) and AiPlex Software. AiPlex software was reportedly attacked in retaliation for comments the CEO of Aiplex software made about his firm being hired by the film industry to take down Pirate Bay.
The most striking feature of this protest is the ease in which it was carried out. According to ZDnet, “all it takes is a simple set of instructions to plug into a tiny downloadable application, set the community motion going and depending on the numbers, it can take minutes or even seconds to kick a site offline.” As per Operation Payback, the MPAA took only 8 minutes to crumble under the force of the attack, and RIAA’s site was offline for almost 9 hours. This attack represents the new age of digital protesting. In a world where in many cases traditional protesting fails, this attack along with many of 4chen’s other pranks and protests have succeeded. 4Chen has taken responsibility for the Sarah Palin email hack, the apple inc. stock crash in 2008 following a falsely submitted report about CEO Steve Jobs suffering a major heart attack, and many other similar “prank/ protests”. All have been in response to something that the users of 4chen disagreed with. Even though many people may disagree with the tactics that 4Chen uses to get their point across, the idea of digital protests is captivating.
Welcome to the new age of protest, the age of Internet protest.