False CEO-Death Story Victimizes iReport

ATTRandallStephenson.jpgReports of the demise of AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson were greatly exaggerated. CNN’s iReport fell victim to a false report that Stephenson was “found dead in his multimillion-dollar beachfront mansion,” Silicon Alley Insider reported, adding that the false story was likely a response by users of bulletin board 4chan who were angry that AT&T was reportedly blocking access to parts of that site for its broadband subscribers.

4chan users were reportedly also responsible for another false iReport story last year claiming that Apple CEO Steve Jobs died of an apparent heart attack.

UPDATED at 3:25 p.m. ET to include statement from AT&T. UPDATED at 3:50 p.m. ET to include statement from iReport.


iReport said on its blog:

It’s important to note that the fake story about Stephenson was never used on CNN’s news platforms in any way. And on iReport.com, it didn’t get the “on CNN” stamp, which sets iReport.com apart from other user-generated content sites by letting users know that CNN has verified the details in a submission and approved it for use on CNN.com and CNN TV.

This kind of fraudulent behavior goes against everything iReport.com stands for, and it won’t be tolerated. We’re proud that you—the iReport.com community—are likewise committed to putting such false rumors to rest.

AT&T responded with a statement on its actions, according to GigaOM:

Beginning Friday, an AT&T customer was impacted by a denial-of-service attack stemming from IP addresses connected to img.4chan.org. To prevent this attack from disrupting service for the impacted AT&T customer, and to prevent the attack from spreading to impact our other customers, AT&T temporarily blocked access to the IP addresses in question for our customers. This action was in no way related to the content at img.4chan.org; our focus was on protecting our customers from malicious traffic.

Overnight Sunday, after we determined the denial-of-service threat no longer existed, AT&T removed the block on the IP addresses in question. We will continue to monitor for denial-of-service activity and any malicious traffic to protect our customers.