Get Ready AT&T: Operation Chokehold Has More Than 1,600 Facebook Fans

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Tower
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Fake Steve’s Operation Chokehold is growing fast. The number of Facebook fans has jumped five-fold overnight, from about 300 fans on Tuesday to more than 1,600.

Fake Steve is calling on disgruntled AT&T customers to bring AT&T’s data network “to its knees” at 12 noon PST this Friday, December 18. (Here’s Fake Steve’s original Operation Chokehold post).

The action is in protest of comments made by AT&T’s CEO Ralph de la Vega that some iPhone users are using too much data. The protest started as a joke, but is taking on a life of its own.

On Tuesday, AT&T dismissed the planned protest as a publicity stunt. A company spokesman downplayed any effect it may have — but that was when there was only 300 fans.

AT&T Responds to Fake Steve’s Operation Chokehold

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Tower
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AT&T has dismissed Fake Steve’s Operation Chokehold protest as an attention-getting stunt.

Fake Steve is calling on disgruntled AT&T customers to bring AT&T’s data network “to its knees” at 12 noon PST this Friday, December 18.

The action is in protest of comments made by a company executive that some iPhone users are using too much data. The protest started as a joke, but seems to have taking on a life of its own. Judging by comments on forums, Facebook and Twitter, people are planning to take part.

Contacted by CultofMac.com, an AT&T spokesman said:

We understand that fakesteve.net is primarily a satirical forum, but there is nothing amusing about advocating that customers attempt to deliberately degrade service on a network that provides critical communications services for more than 80 million customers. We know that the vast majority of customers will see this action for what it is: an irresponsible and pointless scheme to draw attention to a blog.

The AT&T spokesman doubted the action — if it goes ahead — will have much effect. There’s only about 300 participants committed to take part, according to a Facebook fan page set up for the event. The spokesman also claims that many have criticized the event: several have pointed out that the action may affect emergency calls.

Protesters plan to disrupt AT&T’s data network in several ways:

It’s unclear whether disruption of AT&T’s data network will affect voice calls.

Operation Chokehold Is Gathering Steam — Bring AT&T To Its Knees on Friday

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Tower
Cell tower photo by forklift - http://flic.kr/p/772WXR

Operation Chokehold — a flashmob-style protest against AT&T that began as a joke on Fake Steve’s blog — looks like it may actually take place.

The meme is gathering a lot of steam on Twitter and Facebook, with people saying they plan to join the protest.

“We have got to do this!,” says Mashable reader pjserven, who set up a couple of Facbook pages to help mobilize protestors: an event page and a fanpage that makes it easy to invite friends.

The protest began with a Fake Steve post about an internal Apple memo — fake of course — about bringing AT&T’s network to its knees on Friday, December 18 at noon Pacific:

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!

“I made up the note,” said Dan Lyons, aka Fake Steve. “A reader sent in the opposite idea — a boycott of AT&T for one day, everyone stops using their iPhone for a day, and we show them what’s what. I liked the sentiment but who’s going to stop using their iPhone? And for a whole day? I figured no one would go for it. But a one-hour flash mob of overuse? Now that i could see people doing.”

The fake memo follows Fake Steve’s inspired and widely-linked anti-AT&T rant last week. Fake Steve’s diatribe was prompted by comments by A&T CEO Ralph de la Vega’s saying the carrier may “incentivize” iPhone users to cut back on their usage.

Note: Operation Chokehold may adversely affect AT&T’s voice network and block emergency calls.