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Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman January 22, 2021

Antifa.com now redirects to White House website, but anyone can forward a URL without permission

If Your Time is short

  • Joe Biden has been the target of the redirected URL since he secured the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.

  • Anyone can buy an available domain and set it to forward to another website, without the permission or coordination from the owners of that site.

  • Computer experts told us that redirecting a domain name is no different from forwarding a telephone number or mailing address. The person on the receiving end can’t do much to stop it.

The domain name "antifa.com" caused a flurry in September 2020 when it redirected and took visitors to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign website instead. One day after Biden was sworn in as the 46th president, the domain began pulling up the White House’s official website, whitehouse.gov, causing yet another stir.

"ATTENTION!! Go to Antifa dot com (the correct way) and it takes you to Biden's Whitehouse!!!!" reads a popular post on Facebook. "What is going on?? I know b4 it went to his campaign but to put WH on it! Just a slap in the face."

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Here’s what is going on. The way the internet works, any person can buy an available domain name such as antifa.com and set it to redirect to another website, without any involvement from the site it’s being redirected to. 

In this case, whoever owns the domain — and the owner remains anonymous — is purposefully redirecting it to the White House site, possibly as a joke, an oblique form of commentary, or to cause mischief or confusion. There’s no evidence that Biden’s campaign or administration had anything to do with it.

The redirect setting for antifa.com had changed several times before, forwarding to joebiden.com, kamalaharris.org, buildbackbetter.org, and a self-described anarchist website, itsgoingdown.org.

We did not hear back from the White House about the current redirect, but Biden’s campaign denied any association with the previous antifa.com redirects.

Featured Fact-check

An Aug. 31, 2020, tweet from Rob Flaherty, a Biden campaign official.

 

Computer experts told us that redirecting a domain name is no different from forwarding a telephone number or mailing address. The person on the receiving end can’t do much to stop it.

"Basically the way things work with domain names is, if you own a domain name, whether you’re the original purchaser or you purchased it from someone else, you can redirect your domain name to anywhere you wanted it to go," Clifford Neuman, director of the University of Southern California’s Center for Computer Systems Security, told PolitiFact in September. "And that doesn’t require permission or any or coordination from the person you are trying to redirect to."

Neuman found that the antifa.com domain was first registered in 2000, and according to Whois, an online domain registry, it was last updated on Jan. 21, 2021. The registrant is listed as WhoisGuard Protected, meaning the domain owner is using a service to remain anonymous.

The post is partially accurate — the domain does redirect to the White House’s website — but in implying that Biden’s White House is involved, it leaves out important details or takes things out of context. 

We rate it Half True.

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Antifa.com now redirects to White House website, but anyone can forward a URL without permission

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