Supporters of President Donald Trump went nuts online Wednesday after they discovered that the domain name antifa.com redirects to Joe Biden’s website.
Things really took off when a reporter with the far-right cable news network OANN asked Trump about antifa.com redirecting to Biden’s page during a press conference.
Antifa, of course, stands for “anti-fascists” and is the name of a loosely organized leaderless movement that opposes the president. Presumably, to conservatives, antifa.com would be the organization’s homepage, so being associated with it in some way means you are affiliated with the group.
So does this mean the Democratic presidential nominee has something to do with the organization? Did former Vice President Biden’s campaign purchase antifa.com? Did the Democratic Party set this up?
No. It doesn’t mean any of that. Here’s what we know so far about antifa.com and its ownership as of now.
First of all, how do you explain antifa.com sending you to Joe Biden’s campaign website? Easy. The owner of a domain name can redirect their domain name to any webpage. The person who runs antifa.com could have just as easily set the redirect up to forward visitors to Donald Trump’s campaign site. It’s an easy process that just requires that you type in the URL you want your domain to redirect to in your registrar’s administration panel.
Could it still mean Joe Biden’s campaign runs the domain? It could. But it could also mean that the Trump campaign or someone supportive of it did the same just to cause a little controversy. It could also just be the work of a troll, a comedy group, or even someone just looking to add value to the domain when they look to sell it. The point is the redirect on its own doesn’t mean anything.
If you check the whois information, where the domain registrant’s public information is usually posted, you’ll find a service located in the country of Panama listed. Does this mean there’s some sort of foreign connection? Again, no.
Antifa.com is currently registered with Namecheap, a US domain name registration company based in Phoenix, Arizona. The registrant of the domain name uses privacy protection service WhoisGuard, a separate entity that is run by Namecheap, to keep their personal details out of public view. WhoisGuard is a registered company in Panama, which is why those details are listed. It has absolutely no connection to the owner of the domain. They just ticked a box to obscure their personal information and that’s what shows up when using that particular service.
So, what do we know about antifa.com?
According to the Internet Archive, the last time it appears to have been an active website before this year was in 2001. The owner of the domain at that time didn’t renew it so antifa.com became available to anyone. Someone took it in April 2002 and has renewed it every year since, without making it an active website.
Since 2002, antifa.com has been listed . The last for the domain before it was taken off the market was nearly $37,000. Then suddenly at the end of May this year, shortly after the Black Lives Matters protests erupted in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, a website on the domain.
Ok, this might just be one of those internet rabbit holes, but, for kicks, I looked up https://t.co/ebQZCddOry, just to see what’s there. And there is a website that was updated today, with some text sympathetic to the George Floyd protests and links that go nowhere. pic.twitter.com/FODWbg9u7v
— The Rude Pundit (@rudepundit) June 1, 2020
“We Are Antifa: Join Us & Take Action,” read the page headline, followed by hashtags #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd and #NoJusticeNoPeace and a directive on how to join. “We are mobilizing around the world to help support Comrades affected by the current crisis against them. We are taking action to assist Comrades with Financial Opportunities & Continuing to Fight Fascism. We are actively increasing membership volume worldwide. Join Us & Take Action.”
No Anti fascist network would recruit online in this manner.
Don’t follow @AntifaWebsite
It’s not piss poor opsec but data harvesting for doxxers. Zero doubt.
Antifa is not an organisation but a model of organising.
It has no membership, you can’t “sign up today”.
— Anarchist ?Federation ❤? (@AnarchistFed) August 9, 2020
Around this time, other Twitter accounts warned people beware of the antifa.com website, pointing out that there’s no membership to join or even an established organization.
That brings us to now, where the discovery of a simple domain name redirect set off conspiracy theories that made its way to the President of the United States.
At the time of publication, the antifa.com domain displays an error message from its hosting provider which reads “this site is currently unavailable.”