In the wake of community and political pressure following the livestreaming of the horrific terrorist attacks at Christchurch on Friday, Australian ISPs have started blocking some sites used to rehost footage of the livestream, including the infamous 8chan image board.
Users began noticing today that some sites, including 8chan, 4chan and Kiwi Farms, were suddenly inaccessible:
4chan not loading for me on Optus mobile. This is curious as I’m using the 18.104.22.168 DNS server.
— Super Tim Norman Ultimate (@PerfectStormo) March 19, 2019
— Pippa Little (@dawnsbreath) March 19, 2019
Telstra and Vodafone, two of Australia's largest telcos, have both blocked a number of sites hosting footage from the Christchurch attacks. These include 4chan, 8chan, Zerohedge, Liveleak, and Voat. I have contacted Optus to see if they are also following suit.
— brad esposito ???? (@bradesposito) March 19, 2019
Telstra noted on Twitter late yesterday that they had begun preemptively blocking websites, but a post on the Telstra Exchange this afternoon went further, saying that "with these sites continuing to host disturbing content we feel it is the right thing to do to block them".
These are shocking events and the idea that this footage could in some way be used to incite or support hate is a sickening thought. We will continue to do whatever we can to assist and to support a diverse and inclusive community.
A spokesperson for Telstra told Kotaku Australia over email that the blocks are temporary and wholly down to the sites continuing to host the livestream, either in part or in full. "We understand this may inconvenience some legitimate users of these sites, but these are extreme circumstances and we feel this is the right thing to do," a Telstra spokesperson said.
A representative from Optus also confirmed that they have begun blocking sites temporarily. While they would not confirm the full list of sites that have been blocked, they did outline their reasoning in a short statement.
"Reflecting on community expectations, Optus has blocked domains which are hosting video footage/sensitive materials relating to the recent Christchurch attack in New Zealand," an Optus representative told Kotaku Australia over email.
Affected users on social media are reporting that 8chan, 4chan and Kiwi Farms are impacted. It's believed other sites like Voat are also on the temporary blacklist, although it's not confirmed what other sites are affected. Representatives from Telstra and Optus declined to confirm the extent of the bans when contacted.
I'm on TPG. 4chan works, Zerohedge works, LiveLeak works, and Voat works. 8chan does not.
— Peter Murphy (@peterkmurphy) March 19, 2019
4chan's homepage works, but the boards subdomain is blocked.
The others all appear to be blocked.
— Auwustralian???? (@aaron552) March 19, 2019
Update: Vodafone's media team, at the time of writing, was yet to respond. The company did confirm publicly on Twitter that they were blocking sites:
We understand users trying to access these sites for legitimate purposes may be inconvenienced but we believe it’s the right thing to do in these extreme circumstances to stop the further distribution of the horrific, disturbing footage.
— Vodafone Australia (@VodafoneAU) March 19, 2019
However, it's not entirely clear whether the block is still being implemented. Some sites that were supposedly blocked, like 8chan and 4chan, were still viewable on mobile at the time of writing.
This story is developing...