'Steve Jobs' dupes blogosphere with AT&T protest hoax

Operation Chokehold (not) set for Friday


A web-borne - and, for that matter, web-born - movement to spank AT&T this Friday which started as a hoax has taken on a life of its own.

On Monday, the ever-risible lampoon site The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs published a parody proposal ostensibly from Apple engineers called Operation Chokehold that calls upon iPhone users to flood AT&T data networks this coming Friday.

According to Fake Steve (aka Daniel Lyons, late of Forbes, now of Newsweek), he received an email from said engineers that read:

On Friday, December 18, at noon Pacific time, we will attempt to overwhelm the AT&T data network and bring it to its knees. The goal is to have every iPhone user (or as many as we can) turn on a data intensive app and run that app for one solid hour. Send the message to AT&T that we are sick of their substandard network and sick of their abusive comments. The idea is we’ll create a digital flash mob. We’re calling it in Operation Chokehold. Join us and speak truth to power!

Fake Steve approved of the plan to demonstrate AT&T's "bastardly behavior over bandwidth usage," noting that: "Our engineers are friggin livid. And, because they’re engineers, which means they're basically evil little pricks, they've come up with a plan to teach AT&T a lesson."

That plan may have started as satire, but it's gathering steam as an actual protest - so much so that commentary about Operation Chokehold is choking the web.

And then there's veteran opinionmeister Dave Winer, who tweeted his surprise, possibly because he himself had recently suggested his own idea for a protest: a more benign but not nearly as rousing one-day boycott of AT&T by iPhone owners.

Commenters on the aforementioned sites are also taking Fake Steve seriously, offering such advice as remembering to turn off WiFi and suggesting appropriate data-sucking apps. Another poster, however, noted darkly that "Denial of service attacks are illegal in the US under 12 different statutes, including the Economic Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act."

Yet another commenter, when informed that bringing AT&T down might affect emergency services, noted: "Good point! However, if somebody does die due to a missed 911 call, at least it will be for a good cause." But according to another commenter: "911 calls are routed for free to any available network, like T-Mobile. If ATT crashes, you can still call 911. Don't worry."

People, people, people... Fake Steve is a satirist. Operation Chokehold is a joke.

Yes, AT&T has done a piss-poor job of managing the bandwidth requirements put upon it by the überpopular iPhone. And yes, the company's Mobility honcho Ralph de la "Darth" Vega recently insulted suffering customers by suggesting that they're data hogs who need to "understand what represents a megabyte of data" or he'll throttle their data access.

But here's our prediction: Friday will come and Friday will go, and AT&T's service - or lack of it - will remain the same. As one commenter to Gizmodo's report on Operation Chokehold remarked: "I have one problem with this. How do we know if the operation is underway? I don't think I'll be able to tell the difference." ®

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