This is a highly creative piece of election spam. I checked my Google Analytics account after a long time to see the statistics for my personal website http://satishkatiyar.com/. I noticed that there were lots of visits to my site from Russia !
Russia ? I only know a handful people in Russia. Slicing the data by languages showed an interesting new language – literally “Secret.ɢoogle.com You are invited! Enter only with this ticket URL. Copy it. Vote for Trump!”, among other languages like “en-us” (US English) and “en-gb” (UK English).
This surely grabbed my attention, not only the new language but also the content. It’s asking me to vote for Trump. Folks, the election is over and Trump is the president-elect.
But then I wondered about the call to action. What URL does it want me to go to? http://secret.google.com/ ? There is no such URL. Looking at it closely, I see the “G” in Google is not the regular “g” character. That domain (ɢoogle.com) is not the same as “google.com” or “Google.com”, which both belong to the search engine giant. Following the URL solved it. The browser was redirected to another site “http://secret.xn--oogle-wmc.com/” which does not exist now.
Ok, so the spam mystery solved. But I am still left wondering who should be protecting the vast majority of population who are not technology savvy, from such fake domain names? It is Google’s responsibility to protect themselves and users by registering all the possible domain names including spelling errors and such creative use of characters? Or should it be ICANN (domain name authority) who is held responsible for such fake domain names? Worth thinking about, while we are grappling with the issue of fake news.