GoDaddy was accused of using customer domain search inquiries to register names for itself on September 17. These accusations are 100% false. This type of behavior is predatory, unethical, and goes against everything we stand for as a company.
To put any rumors or speculation to rest below is a fully transparent, play-by-play of what transpired with felons.io, including how often it was searched for and why it will be available for registration again in a few days.
GoDaddy search history for felons.io
Here are the recent results where felons.io appeared to customers in the search results page leading up to purchase on September 16, 2020:
On August 25, someone searched for felonies.io. We recommended felons.io, since it was close to felonies.io, as an alternative name to register.
August 27 was a busy day. There were eight searches for felons, both as a keyword and domain name. For each search that was not an exact match, we recommended felons.io as part of our standard process to assist our customers.
We do not know if the searches were conducted by the same person or multiple people.
September 16 had two searches. One was for the keyword felon. We suggested felons.io. A little bit later, we believe the same user who searched for felons.io registered it.
To reiterate, the accusation that we used customer domain search inquiries to register felons.io is completely false.
Why will it be available soon?
As we looked into the search history of felons.io, we noticed the registration was going to be deleted in a couple of days.
As it turns out, our fraud team flagged the transaction as fraudulent. It appears one of our customers had their account compromised, either through phishing or another attack (here is a quick refresher on how to protect yourself from attacks). Then, someone placed an order for more than 15 domain names from the compromised account.
Some of the domain names registered on that order related to the keyword felon and some didn’t.
Here are a few of the names from that order:
The registration for those names, plus the rest of the order, will be deleted in the coming days. This is our standard procedure for fraudulent domain purchases.
Why do we track domain search data?
The first domain search a customer does might be taken, so it’s vital for any domain name registrar to suggest alternatives.
Our job is to recommend the best domain names possible to our customers.
To bring the best recommendations, we have a suggestion engine that we’re continuously improving so we’re always delivering great domain name suggestions.
We retain domain name search queries to make sure we’re serving relevant data. We encrypt the search query data, have strict protocols in place that limit who can access it within the company, and never use it to register names for GoDaddy.
This protocol is a common practice in our industry.
We hope this sets the record straight around what happened with felons.io.
Our mission is to help people bring their ideas to life online with the best possible domain name. Doing anything to jeopardize that experience for our customers would be counter to our mission and values as a company.