Someone Pinched Pauline Hanson’s URL for a Pro-Refugee Makeover

Go ahead and visit the website No, really. Click on this link. Once you’re done, feel free to revisit this article.

Oh, are you back? Pleasant. Here’s the deal: it seems a nifty little bugger has landed a domain name once linked to a notorious xenophobe and occasional One Nation politician. Pauline Hanssonusing it to redirect visitors to the official website of the Refugee Council of Australia.

As Brown Cardigan first pointed out, an anonymous Slack user appeared to take responsibility for the switcharoo.

They alleged that ownership of the URL was lapsed, meaning it was free for anyone to take over.

“I noticed that the domain pauline hanson dot com dot au had expired overnight…” they announced.

“I grabbed it and redirected… Check it out when you have a second.”

Since Friday morning, the page has funneled traffic to one of Australia’s leading organizations focused on refugee rights.

The joke here is that Hanson has spent most of his political career pushing for immigration bans and freaking out over anyone who isn’t a white Australian.

There is no suggestion that the Refugee Council of Australia itself was responsible for the change or was involved in it, FWIW.

A quick check of the Wayback Machine internet filing system suggests that Hanson hasn’t regularly held the domain name since 2016, when she was elected to the Senate and focused on One Nation’s digital footprint.

via WaybackMachine

The domain seems to have been inactive since then, except for a few spam placeholders.

Domain squatting, the practice of grabbing a domain name before an individual or business with that name can claim it, is a fairly unique legal problem. Prosecuting it in court can also be a problem.

However, Australia’s official Internet Domain Authority offers an alternative arbitration process for anyone who feels they have been swept away by a “cybersquatter”.

The process can cost up to $4,500, which means returning the URL to its “rightful” owner can be expensive.


Image: Sam Mooy/Getty Images

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