Three Conspiracy Theories (and One Black Helicopter) Concerning Comcast and Google
update: After talking to some people who have the wrong impression of this post, I'd just like to clear things up by saying yes, Comcast probably just had a DNS problem and yes, it would be very silly for them to intentionally block Google. It just doesn't make sense for them to block Google, especially after Comcast's COO said last week that Comcast would be shooting itself in the foot if it blocked access to any sites. Just so we're clear.
When I posted that bit about Comcast and Google yesterday, I swear I didn't think many folks would care. But all of a sudden I started getting these quacky e-mails about how Comcast was intentionally blocking Google, or how Google was intentionally blocking Comcast, or how Google was financing a paramilitary force with black helicopters in the foothills of Massachusetts. And that's odd, because I didn't even know Massachusetts had foothills.
I did finally get in touch with Comcast. The representative was very nice and cooperative. But she refused to give me any information beyond the prepared statement, which said a DNS server in the region had malfunctioned, was turned off, and traffic had been redirected. The conversation went something like this:
Which region did you say?
Right, but what region?
Were any other sites besides Google affected?
Well, the short answer is yes.
And what sites were those?
Look, what we really want to get out is that there was a DNS problem and it's been fixed.
Well pardon me. Please, allow me to be your mouthpiece. But after talking to my editor, I can understand where they're coming from. From Comcast's point of view, the danger now is that some Congressional staffer in Washington or California is going interpret the Comcast problem as a net neutrality issue and forward this to their boss. And that boss, who probably subscribes to the tube theory of the Internet, will think hey, here's a great chance to bring up net neutrality legislation again. And then, two years from now, we'll have some yahoo in a congressional chamber saying, "We need net neutrality legislation--remember that Comcast thing with Google?"
Here's hoping that doesn't happen. And anyway, the problem seems resolved now. But just for fun, here are the top three conspiracy theories sent via e-mail and IM about the event.
1. Dark Fiber.Google lit up a bunch of its new dark fiber. When it updated their DNS entries the update was somehow lost by the Comcast server.
2. Politics."Interesting coincidence that the Google problem happened at the same time AOL was publishing people's search terms and the Republican National Committee was accusing the Democratic National Committee of partisan shot-taking after the DNC sent a letter to the RNC letting the RNC know that the e-mails of people who registered on its Web site were visible to anyone who registered."
Right. And if you rearrange the letters spelling Comcast and assign numbers to each, then add them up, it proves you're good at math but bad at reality.
3. Begun, these net neutrality wars have. My favorite comment from Digg: "this is a completely retarded comment. the search feature on comcast's website is powered by google. comcast isn't blocking shit. stop being STUPID."
If you would like to contribute to the conspiracy theory pot, by all means, leave a comment. Personally, I take Comcast at its word. But then I live in a reinforced bunker and subsist on fava beans. So there's that.