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.
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.
- Over at Information Week, Eric Zeeman darkly suggested that "I think the first message [AT&T] would receive is that iPhone owners are selfish people who don't care about the tens of millions of other customers who depend on AT&T's network each and every day."
- Seth Weintraub at 9to5 Mac first commented that "I'll go climb on my roof and try to get a signal and watch some YouTubes. Maybe that will put AT&T over the edge," but then updated that sentiment with "Oh yeah, emergency calls might not go through. Better to not take part probably - so I can call an ambulance when I fall of my roof."
- Truthdig took Operation Chokehold seriously enough to note that "It shouldn’t take much to buckle AT&T’s network - it has trouble functioning under normal conditions."
- Mashable's Jennifer Van Grove cautioned that "We should not forget that bringing down a network the size of AT&T could have disastrous implications."
- Dave Zatz of the eponymous Zatz Not Funny is not amused, suggesting that his readers not get aboard the Operation Chokehold pain train: "So, to my fellow pissed off AT&T customers," he writes, "out of respect for all the pregnant women, business people, and ME, let's act responsibly and please keep the network up Friday."
- Karl Bode of DSLReports sums up the impending (possible) protest by writing: "Tune in Friday to see if a fake CEO's somewhat fake joke results in a very real DDoS for AT&T."
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.
Commentards 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 commentard, 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." ®