Feminist blog Femsplain was taken offline earlier today by a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, according to the site's founder, Amber Gordon. She tells The Verge that the site was offline for roughly three hours before service returned intermittently late Sunday afternoon on the East Coast. The timing seems far from random: today is International Women's Day.
In a tweet, Gordon — best known online as @missambear — shared a screenshot showing the massive influx of traffic from the DDoS attack. Such attacks overwhelm the servers that host websites with a avalanche of requests.
"Unfortunately it happened on a day that's meant to celebrate women."
According to Gordon, these sorts of attacks are not rare. "We constantly have people attacking us and attempting to bring our website down. It’s unfortunate but the reality of our mission." She added in comments to The Verge that prior attacks are "never to this severity and I think it's because it's International Women's Day." Social media accounts taking credit for the attack used the hashtag #internationalwomensday, suggesting the harassment is tied to today's date.
The blog started up late last year as a place for women to discuss topics from online harassment to Gamergate. It has a group of female contributors who publish stories to the site. It also shares reader submissions. Gordon says that "our community is so vocal about supporting us that tons of people were sending messages out on social media to raise awareness that this was happening." She added, "unfortunately it happened on a day that's meant to celebrate women."