Femsplain Was Hacked On International Women's Day

by Lauren Barbato

File under: you're kidding me. Sunday was International Women's Day, a time to celebrate women's political and social achievements around the globe. It was also the day, apparently, to bring down a women-centric website whose main goal is to publish and highlight the unique stories of women. The feminist platform Femsplain endured a cyber attack on Sunday, knocking the popular website offline for several hours before it could be fully restored.

Early on Sunday, Femsplain founder Amber Gordon tweeted that the website was down due to a DDoS, or Distributed Denial of Service, attack. "We're currently experiencing website down time due to a DDoS attack," Femsplain also explained on its Facebook page. "Working to get it up ASAP!"

What is a DDoS attack? According to Digital Attack Map, it's when hackers try to make a website or online service unavailable by overloading the server, thereby disrupting the system. Gordon posted a screenshot of the Femsplain server, showing a great influx of incoming traffic on March 8.

Gordon explained on Twitter that, being an independent website, it's fairly easy for DDoS attackers to kick Femsplain offline. Unfortunately, this wasn't the first time cyber attackers targeted the women-centric site.

"We constantly have people attacking us and attempting to bring our website down," Gordon wrote in a tweet. "It’s unfortunate but the reality of our mission."

Gordon also tweeted the identity of one of the alleged DDoS attackers, who goes by the name "Teridax" on Twitter. The alleged hacker's Twitter handle is @Sarkeesian, a reference to feminist video blogger and media critic Anita Sarkeesian, who runs the popular Feminist Frequency website and hosts the Tropes vs. Women video series. Sarkeesian has been the target of numerous cyber attacks, rape and death threats, and even domestic terrorist bombing plots, most of which have allegedly stemmed from zealous gamers who also harbor anti-feminist beliefs.

The user Teridax initially claimed responsibility for the attack, reportedly telling The Daily Dot that he did it for his "anti-feminist" friend. However, Teridax has recanted, claiming his comments were a "ruse" and that he was purposely trolling the online publication.

At this time, none of the DDoS attackers can be confirmed. But there is one positive note to takeaway from this story: Femsplain has now seen its popularity — as well as donations — skyrocket in the last 24 hours. So thank you, DDoS attackers, for bringing attention to women's narratives on International Women's Day.

Image: screenshot/Femsplain