Fake Steve Jobs Backs Down on Crashing AT&T

The government calls a techie's prank a "public safety concern"

This article is from the archive of our partner .

It's no secret that many devoted iPhone users have grudges with AT&T, blaming it for constant connection problems and dropped calls. But when iPhone creator Steve Jobs slams the company, people take notice. Sorry--Fake Steve Jobs, that is. Confused? The tech writer otherwise known as Dan Lyons made a name as a Newsweek columnist before launching a blog in 2007 satirizing Apple's illustrious CEO. "Fake Steve Jobs" assumes a loopy first-person perspective, claiming to offer Jobs' uncensored--often profane--thoughts as well as letters from other famous figures.

While Fake Steve Jobs has made headlines before, his latest stunt has grabbed the government's attention. Unpersuaded by AT&T's defense, Fake Jobs urged his iPhone-owning readers to collectively bring down AT&T's wireless network. As he wrote on Monday:

Subject: Operation Chokehold
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!

The movement spread across the Internet, birthing its own separate website, a Facebook Group, an opposing Facebook Group, and a firm denunciation/plea to reconsider from an authentic AT&T spokesperson. It even attracted scolding from the FCC, which said disrupting a network presented a "significant public safety concern."

Overwhelmed by the dramatic response to his intended joke, Fake Jobs attempted to recall his original plan and redirect the energy into a more traditional, physical protest outside of AT&T stores. As he wrote on Wednesday:

I really don't want to cause any actual harm to my fellow AT&T users. Quite the opposite -- I feel as if we're all caught in the same horrible prison, suffering alongside one another...

Let's form actual flash mobs outside AT&T stores and put duct tape over their mouths. Anyone up for this? Like, in San Francisco? The media is already all over this protest. They're loving it. They know how badly AT&T sucks and apparently they want to join us in our struggle. So making this into a physical demonstration is the best way to ratchet it up another notch.

But as he also remarked in the same post "The point is, I'm not sure we can stop this thing." Subsequent posts have actually gone so far as to satirize the panicked response to "Operation Chokehold," feigning communiques from President Obama and Osama Bin Laden.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.