Just before the new year chimed in, furries in North Carolina - and a few others nearby - found themselves blocked from accessing well-known fandom imageboard e621, which indicated that they would no longer be serving the state without further discussions with legal experts:
Due to the current legal situation in North Carolina and the uncertainty surrounding it, we will be blocking access to e621.net from North Carolina until we can consult with our legal counsel on this matter. We did not come to this decision lightly and we will do what we can, as we can, to rectify and remedy this situation so that we can restore access to those users that are affected by this matter. We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience and will have an update as soon as possible. - e621 news updates - 2023-12-31
e621 is not alone in this action, as Pornhub has also blocked access to its page in North Carolina.
It was one of those strange coincidences that makes one think that, if there were a god, he must have a strange sense of humour. Salman Rushdie, who was the target of a 1989 fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini that called for his death due to his novel The Satanic Verses and who lost sight in one of his eyes after being stabbed on stage in the US last year, warned that never in his lifetime had freedom of expression been under such a threat in the West. Less than a week later, Fur Affinity announced a new rule banning adult artwork of characters with childlike proportions, later calling out specific pokémon and digimon. I have already written about the importance of free speech for the furry fandom, so here I would like to discuss how increasing authoritarianism is restricting free expression and a simple way to help safeguard it.
Security is necessary for one's own protection, both offline (to protect one's physical safety and possessions) and online (protecting identity, money and, as the our digital and real lives become more integrated, even physical possessions). Our own behaviours and security systems need to work together to be effective. It's no good having the latest burglar alarm, strong locks on your doors and a security gate if one leaves the door wide open. Similarly, it's great to lock the door each time one goes out - but if that door is secured solely by a latch, it won't be effective. As I've given some basic guidelines on how to stay safe online, I'm now comparing how furry sites are helping their users stay safe.
Update (Jan 28): All Weasyl servers now receive an A grade, however the server configuration is still not consistent.
Online furry communities are reeling after a series of distributed denial-of-service attacks now entering their second day, which not only knocked out Fur Affinity, but have impacted a variety of less-well-visited art and chat sites.
The problem is, this was unplanned downtime. […] If it was planned […] people would have had time to get things together. Such as commissioners, contests, bids, etc. and where to get in contact or if the bids/auctions are postponed while the site is down.
[…] at first I was worried that I wouldn't be able to make any money for christmas, but now I'm starting to worry that FA will be down so long that I won't be able to make enough for rent. […] it's so very disheartening when it was supposed to be a nice holiday season...
Operations team lead yak began an attempt to clear backlogged database transactions on Monday afternoon "as fast as the RAID10 array of 15k drives allow". A day later, FA status forum poster Raptros reported that the database would be transferred to a different server.
Update (15 Dec): An announcement posted on Sunday morning:
The last of the data is importing, and we'll be standing by to finish the upgrades. ETA should be tonight.
[The current method of notification handling] is not scalable and quickly becomes unsustainable for sites with 10^5 and 10^6 users.
Staff have rewritten queries, tweaked database settings, and intend to prune notifications older than 90 days soon after the site returns.
Update 3 (17 Dec): Fur Affinity came online for a few minutes before stalling and returning to read-only mode, "unable to handle a flood of users while rebuilding the RAID arrays". The site returned eight hours later, with mass notification clearing options disabled.
Users flooded social networks to complain about the disruption and compare alternate sites; primarily Inkbunny, SoFurry and Weasyl. On FA's forums, a 20-page thread was locked after discussion degenerated; it was soon replaced, while fans clamoured for software upgrades.
Thanks to numerous threats to our host, false claims of illegal content, harassment and a few things that are much worse, e621 is being closed down permanently. It's been fun running it.
The closure is likely the result of allegations made earlier today that e621 hosted cartoon child pornography.
Furry art communities Fur Affinity, fchan and E621 all went offline just prior to Christmas following an early morning distributed denial of service attack (commonly called a DDoS) against the three websites. Fur Affinity was back online by the evening of the same day, fchan was running with degraded functionality for roughly 24 hours and E621 was back online a few days later. The source of the attacks remains unknown.
A distributed denial of service attack struck furry art archive Fur Affinity and image boards E621 and Fchan on Sunday, lasting for several days. Fchan suffered from degraded functionality until early Monday morning, while Fur Affinity's main site was mostly unusable until the evening of the same day. E621 had returned by the middle of the week.
The initial burst of traffic was via UDP, a protocol not typically used by web servers, but blocking such traffic only worked for a short time. During the downtime, Fur Affinity popped up sporadically, with users reporting abnormalities such as getting logged in under other user's accounts.