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Politics

Biden’s flubbed text message appeal launches at least five internet domains

‘Joe’ domains
Former Vice President Joe Biden’s flubbed attempt to ask supporters to send a text to a campaign number — “Go to Joe 30330 and help me in this fight” — instead launched a flurry of internet domain purchases.
(Los Angeles Times composite)

Bay Area-native Keoua Medeiros saw an immediate opportunity when Joe Biden flubbed a campaign promo during his closing statement at the Democratic debate Wednesday night.

“If you agree with me, go to Joe 30330 and help me in this fight,” the former vice president said, pausing as he said the numbers and seemingly directing viewers of the CNN-hosted debate to a website. But the Democratic front-runner meant to say “Text Joe to 30330,” his campaign said in a statement the next day, adding, “oops.”

Within minutes, Medeiros had used the former vice president’s slip-up to drive online traffic to Snap A Prop, his Bay Area-based real estate, photography and marketing company’s website. Medeiros, and others, jumped on the mistake and bought similar domain names.

“It seemed like he didn’t know what he was saying,” Medeiros said of Biden.

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Medeiros said he snapped up the domain joe3033.com for about $15. The registrant name for the URL is private, but the purchase was made via the domain hosting company GoDaddy at about 7:50 p.m. Pacific — four minutes after Biden’s slip — according to registration data from Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. The domain was one of at least five variants of Joe followed by threes and zeros that were registered in the minutes after Biden’s remark.

“By the time I went to buy joe30330, that was taken already by the Josh for America guy,” Medeiros said.

The Josh for America guy is Joshua Fayer, a senior at Syracuse University studying public relations, computer science and political science. ICAAN domain registration data show that joe30330.com was purchased on NameCheap about two minutes before Medeiros’ purchase.

Fayer said he doesn’t own the domain name; he said a friend bought it and told him about it in a text. The domain redirects to a website for “Josh for America” that was registered in April and built, Fayer said, as an April Fools Day joke.

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“We decided linking to my faux-campaign site would be the funniest thing we could do,” Fayer said in an email exchange. He added that the friends are not endorsing any particular campaign and are “just having a bit of good-natured fun.” However, the website does include a link to donate to South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, another candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Another domain variant — joe3030.com — was created just 15 seconds later and redirected to Buttigieg’s campaign website. The registrant name for that domain is also private, according to ICAAN domain registration data. The Buttigieg campaign confirmed to the Los Angeles Times on Thursday that it did not register the domain.

In between those three purchases someone created joe30303.com and joe33030.com. The former is a coming soon page; the latter redirects to joebiden.com.

Former Vice President Joe Biden was pressured to answer for deportations under the Obama administration.

Among all of this, about an hour earlier, after a protest over Obama-era deportations, someone bought the domain name threemilliondeportations.com and redirected it to Biden’s campaign website.

Asked Thursday if there was anything he’d do differently about the debate, Biden responded: “I would have said ‘text.’”


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