Type of site
|Current status||Active (mirror site only)|
goatse.cx (/ / GOHT-see-dot-see-EKS, //; "goat sex"), often referred to simply as Goatse, was originally an Internet shock site. Its front page featured a picture, entitled hello.jpg, showing a naked man widely stretching his anus with both of his hands.
The photo became a notorious surprise image and Internet meme, and has been used in bait-and-switch pranks, prevention of hot-linking in a hostile manner, and defacement of websites, in order to provoke extreme reactions. Even though the image from the site was taken down in 2004, mirror websites are widespread.
The man in the picture was an amateur porn star named Kirk Johnson.
- "the receiver", the main index page, contained hello.jpg.
- "the giver", containing a manipulated photograph of a man reclining on a boat with a large penis reaching up to his chest, suggesting that the man in the first image is stretching his anus to accommodate the giant penis.
- "feedback", a page containing email feedback from readers.
- "contrib", a collection of homages and parodies of the images received from readers.
The index page also contained a content disclaimer and a warning about unofficial goatse.cx merchandise, with a reassurance that official merchandise would be made available. Newer versions of the site had links to defunct websites such as dolphinsex.org and urinalpoop.org, while older versions linked to biganal.com.
Domain suspension and sale of domain name
On January 14, 2004, the domain name goatse.cx was suspended by Christmas Island Internet Administration due to Acceptable Use Policy violations in response to a complaint, but many mirrors of the site are still available, remaining on display on many other websites. A Christmas Island resident filed the complaint that resulted in the suspension of goatse.cx's domain name.
In January 2007, the Christmas Island Internet Administration put the domain goatse.cx back into the available domain pool. The domain was subsequently registered on January 16 through domain registrar Variomedia, and the registrant tried to auction the right to use the domain.
An early attempt to offer the domain for sale by SEOBidding placed the reserve at $120, which was not met.
The goatse.cx domain name was reportedly sold at an auction on April 30, 2007 to an unknown bidder. According to SEOBidding.com, the first auction ended with fake bids so the auction was reactivated. This was again won by fake bidders, so in July SEOBidding.com announced that the website would be sold for $500,000 and that legal action would be pursued against the fake bidders. On November 25, 2007, and continuing as of June 2010, the site was still for sale, listed as: "goatse.cx Asking: $50,200 minimum".
The October 21, 2009 edition of the Rick Latona "Daily Domains" newsletter advertised the goatse.cx domain for sale at an asking price of $15,000, noting it as being a "famous site, [with] tons of backlinks".[failed verification]
As of May 16, 2010, the site was once again active, containing an announcement stating:
goatse.cx 'Stinger' 2.0 Beta is coming
Only 24 days to go until Goatse Stinger 2.0 goes beta on May 9, 2010!
The page showed a stylized representation of hello.jpg, which featured a pair of silver robotic hands 'stretching' a metallic, circular wall aperture in what appears to be a futuristic factory setting. Later in May, a new page was hosted at goatse.cx, for the stated purpose of offering email service at the site, featuring a sketch with hands spreading wide a view onto a mailing envelope.
In July 2011, goatse.cx remained unchanged while www.goatse.cx began redirecting to a Web hosting company.
As of November 2012[update], it was announced that the goatse.cx domain had been acquired by a new owner, who was advertising a forthcoming webmail service that gives users access to goatse.cx email addresses.
The site was offering subdomains at the end of 2014.
Reception and parodies
Because many Internet users have been tricked into viewing the site or a mirror of the site at one time or another, it has become an Internet meme. On November 24, 2000, the Goatse "giver" and "receiver" images were posted to the official online Oprah Winfrey Message Boards in the Soul Stories board. Trystan T. Cotten and Kimberly Springer, authors of Stories of Oprah: the Oprahfication of American Culture, said that this "seemingly considerable male intrusion drove many of the women elsewhere, and the board was retired shortly afterwards". Slashdot altered its threaded discussion forum display software because "users made a sport out of tricking unsuspecting readers into visiting [goatse.cx]". The Los Angeles Times Wikitorial was introduced on June 17, 2005, to be a publicly accessible method of directly responding to the paper's editorials; Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales had consulted on the project, and on its first day contributed a "forking" of the page to accommodate opposing opinions. Prior to the feature's introduction, L.A. Times editorial and opinion editor Michael Kinsley stated that "Wikitorials may be one of those things that within six months will be standard. It's the ultimate in reader participation". The wiki was closed two days later on June 19, 2005, because, The Guardian reported, "explicit images known as Goatses appeared on [it]".
it's ... the spectacle of the thing, right? You really want to be there when the person is seeing it. To the extent that there's all these sites online of sort of people taking pictures of their friends and showing them Goatse... [In photos online,] It's like thousands and thousands of people looking really shocked or disgusted. It's really great.
The goatse.cx image has been used by website authors to discourage other sites from hot-linking to them. By replacing the hot-linked image with an embarrassing image when hot-linking has been discovered, an unsubtle message is sent to the offending website's operators, visible to all who view the web page in question. In 2007, Wired.com hot-linked to another site in an article about the "sexiest geeks of 2007"; the site subsequently swapped the hot-linked image with one from goatse.cx.
Following Hurricane Charley in August 2004, a photograph purporting to show "the hands of God" in the cloud formations in the aftermath of the disaster circulated via email. The image was eventually proven to be a parody, the clouds having been photo-manipulated to include hands, as in the hello.jpg image.
Disc images supposedly containing a leaked Mac OS X build, OSx86, which could run on standard "x86 architecture" computers, were distributed during 2005 on BitTorrent filesharing networks. But rather than load the expected Mac OS, the discs reportedly displayed the Goatse image when booted.
In his book The Long Tail (2008), Chris Anderson wrote that goatse.cx is well-known only to a relatively small Internet-using "subcultural tribe" who reference it as a "shared context joke" or "secret membership code". Anderson cited a photo accompanying an "otherwise innocuous article" about Google in the June 2, 2005 The New York Times, in which Anil Dash wore a T-shirt emblazoned with stylized hands stretching out the word "Goatse".
In June 2007, a proposed sketch of the 2012 Summer Olympics logo appeared on the BBC News 24 broadcast and website as one of the 12 best viewer-submitted alternatives to the official logo. In it, two hands stretched the "0" wide in "2012", as the submitter wrote, "to reveal the Olympics". The sketch was later shown as part of a gallery of viewers logos on BBC London News and BBC News 24, and was subsequently removed from the website. The editor of the BBC News website acknowledged the mistake in his blog, saying his team "simply didn’t spot it".
In June 2010, a group of computer experts known as Goatse Security exposed a flaw in AT&T's security which allowed the e-mail addresses of iPad users to be revealed. A member of the group was interviewed by the media and discussed the group's name, among other things. The group uses a stylized cartoon of the cropped goatse.cx image as their logo and has the motto "Gaping Holes Exposed".
The Register reported that Scottish TV News, while reporting on a hacking incident, unintentionally broadcast a link to Goatse images while showing the LulzSec Twitter feed on the victim site, which read, "For anyone that doesn't know what goatse is, check it out here, it's really eye-opening: [link]".
On 20 September 2013, the United States Department of Justice filed a response brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in United States v. Auernheimer, an appeal in a criminal case from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, which involved the access of AT&T customers' email addresses by Goatse Security. The brief explains on page three that "The firm’s name is a reference to a notoriously obscene internet shock site" and includes a footnote which reads "For a more graphic description, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goatse." The fact that a brief filed in a U.S. federal appellate court linked to a page about Goatse, even if only a Wikipedia article, caused a stir on social media.
- Adrian Chen (April 10, 2012). "Finding Goatse: The Mystery Man Behind the Most Disturbing Internet Meme in History". Gawker. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
- Kirkpatrick, Stewart (June 9, 2004). "Lazy Guide to Net Culture: NSFW". The Scotsman. Archived from the original on December 31, 2007. Retrieved June 15, 2010. Links to complaint.
- "The Receiver" goatse.cx 2004. Archived from the original January 9, 2004.
- "The Receiver" goatse.cx 1999. Archived from the original Archived May 25, 2010, at the Wayback Machine October 12, 1999.
- "The Receiver" goatse.cx 2000. Archived from the original Archived October 12, 1999, at the Wayback Machine December 2, 2000.
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- Response Brief for US v Auernheimer  Archived July 18, 2014, at the Wayback Machine  Archived June 6, 2014, at the Wayback Machine retrieved on 30 September
- Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) review of US v Auernheimer  Archived July 3, 2014, at the Wayback Machine retrieved on 30 September
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- "Lazy Guide to Net Culture: NSFW" – The Scotsman
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- Goatse on Screamer (wiki)