Was Not Hacked—But Someone Is Having a Bit of Fun
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politics Was Not Hacked—But Someone Is Having a Bit of Fun

Why takes you to the Toronto Star

If you try to go to Rob Ford’s website right now you will, instead of things about Rob Ford, see the above very regretful, very sorrowful message.

And then, after a few seconds, you see will this…

Given Mayor Rob Ford’s high-profile war with the Toronto Star these days, it might seem especially funny that users who punch into their web browser wind up at the Star‘s website. (Note especially today’s lead story, about morale among City workers.) When word spread about the URL redirection earlier this afternoon across Twitter, many wondered if the mayor’s website had been hacked. It was a valid concern considering Ford was recently on the receiving end of a threat by Anonymous, the hacker activist network—but the truth is actually more benign, though still pretty funny.

When Mayor Rob Ford was just an angry councillor on the fringe, he used his website at as a clearing house for all the things that bothered him about city council. But soon after he upgraded to the mayor’s office, all content was taken offline, with the last record of the old site at dated February 2011. Sometime over the summer the domain name was allowed to lapse, meaning that after a brief waiting period became available to anyone willing to part with a few dollars to pay the registration fee.

Current domain records show that the domain’s new owner took control on November 17. The registrar is listed as “Fresh Grape Solutions Inc.,” which is a name linked to eGate Domains Inc., a Toronto-based domain registration service. EGate has a system that allows their customers to target Canadian domain names that are approaching their expiry date, automatically snagging them as soon as they become available.

One upshot of this: in contrast to a case of hacking, this particular intervention was staged by the domain’s new rightful owner, so it may actually stick around for a while rather than disappearing quickly. Or we may get a new redirect every day. (We have a few suggestions.)

For now, the identity of the new owner of Rob Ford’s old domain name remains a mystery. But regardless of who it is, this doesn’t seem like something that’s going to help ease tensions between the mayor and the Star. Good try, though.

Clarification: December 7, 11:30 AM This post originally referred to Fresh Grape Solutions Inc. as the owner of the domain, when in fact it registered the domain for the owner. The wording has been changed to reflect that.