4chan downed in tit-for-tat teen raid by Tumblr

A playground squabble between users of two US social media websites has broken out into all-out war, as bored teenagers threaten rivals with massive, tit-for-tat denial of service attacks.

The dispute began as an argument over turf. Notoriously rowdy image message board 4chan was launched in 2003 as an outlet for manga pictures, and is credited with spreading wildly successful internet ‘memes’ such as ‘Rickrolling’ – tricking users into visiting a clip of 1980s has-been pop star Rick Astley – and the terrifying ‘Chocolate Rain’ video by oddball internet ‘celeb’ Tay Zonday.

Now, however, 4chan users are miffed that another site, Tumblr, has allegedly encroached on their traditional territory of gross-out clips, anime and dodgy porn.

Social bookmarking blog Tumblr allows its users to follow each other’s recommendations from around the web in the form of a Twitter-style micro-blog.

The barney is shaping up to be a girls vs. boys clash, with Tumblr users – many of whom are female, and noted for their whimsical fascination with all things cute and cuddly – facing off against porn-obsessed counterparts of the opposite sex from 4chan.

Disgruntled users of 4chan's /b/ forum last week called for a massive DDoS attack to be carried out on Sunday, aimed at bringing down Tumblr as part of a campaign dubbed 'Operation Overlord'. Tumblr was threatened with 4chan’s ‘Low Orbital Ion Cannon’, a nickname for a piece of software used to launch DDoS attacks.

4chan’s threat isn’t an empty one. Its users have a history of launching successful DDoS attacks against high-profile targets. Vice-presidential hopeful Sarah Palin’s private Yahoo mail account was hacked by a 4chan user during the last US presidential election and YouTube has been hit by mass postings of pornography by 4chan members.

Recent attacks by vigilante hacking group Anonymous, which brought down the websites of anti-piracy legal outfit Gallant Macmillan and its client, the record label Ministry of Sound, were also announced on the forums at 4chan.

But a plan by 4chan users to bring down Tumblr on Sunday appears to have been thwarted after users of the rival site communicated news of the threat and launched a retaliatory strike of their own.

Tumblr users called for a counter-strike against 4chan, cutely nicknamed 'Operation Overkitten', with the following message:

“For far too long we have let these curvy spined /b/tards poison our eyes with goatsees and midget porn. This needs to stop NOW… We cannot stand for this. WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT IT? Kittens. Lots and lots of kittens.”

Tumblr’s DDoS attack was scheduled for 5pm Eastern Time on Monday, but according to a report on IT news site TechCrunch, 4chan became unavailable on Sunday, with visitors receiving a '404 – page not found' error.

Reports this morning indicate that 4chan is still having problems, with slow load times, while Tumblr appears unaffected.

See the respective sites' calls to arms below...