Bad things happen when celebrities and other public figures forget to register domain names associated with their real names, projects, and the like, and comedians like Ben Larrison are to thank for the collective laughs we get out of it.
The prank domain has existed for quite some time, but it seems like we've been seeing it much more often over the last year: CarlyFiorina.org was turned into a page noting how many people she'd laid off at HP, TedCruz.com says "Support President Obama," and an anti-gay state politician saw his official website turned into an LGBT resource center after letting his registration lapse.
The latest victim is Martin Shkreli, the CEO of Turin Pharmaceuticals who has been blasted by people around the world for buying the rights to out-of-patent AIDS medication called Daraprim and jacking the price from $13.50 to $750 (his nickname on many parts of the internet is "douchebag CEO"). Larrison, a comedian at Chicago's Second City, recently purchased Shkreli.org for $10 and turned it into a manifesto railing against the CEO:
"Much like your company does with Daraprim, I am also willing to make this website available to you…at a teeny, tiny price increase," Larrison wrote on the site. "So if you (or anyone else, for that matter) is interested in purchasing Shkreli.org for the new, market-determined rate of $10,000, I would gladly transfer it right on over to you."
Larrison admits it would have been more ideal to buy Shkreli's full name or a .com address, but it appears as though Shkreli already owns them.
In any case, Larrison is a prolific domain snatcher. He's bought 25 domains over the last year, most of them associated with right wing politicians. They are helpfully listed at "listofmywebsites.com."
For Scott Walker, who just dropped out of the 2016 presidential race, he's got Walker16.net, Walker16.org, and voteforwalker.net. He's got Vote4Trump.org, VoteDonaldTrump.net, and GarbagePerson.com (which redirects to a Google search for Donald Trump. He owns WayneLaPierre.org (LaPierre is head of the National Rifle Association), which he's turned into a jarring depiction of how many people are killed by guns every year in the United States.
"Some of these are obviously comedy, but from my perspective, I'm using them to call attention to things," Larrison told me. "I'm a comedian, but I'm also politically active and it's nice to find a sweet spot somewhere in the middle."
Larrison says that he's noticed it's become more difficult to amass a pile of domain names over the last year as politicians become more savvy and as other domain snatchers buy up anything that might be able to be used as a joke.
"It's definitely gotten tougher to find some of the names that should otherwise be available," he said. "People are buying up all the domains to protect their brands and save themselves from any potential embarrassment."
Larrison says he's yet to hear from any of his subjects, but his offer to sell the domain back to Shkreli stands.
"I'm not comfortable backing down on my word from him," he said. "But as for Ann Coulter, I don't know if I would have it in me to sell it back to her."
Masters of their Domain is a column that investigates who owns popular or interesting domain names, and what they're doing with them.