They’re domain-name-snatchers who gobble up urls bearing the monikers of prominent people. And now Hirshhorn director Melissa Chiu is among those swept up in their mischief.
Visit melissachiu.com, and you’ll see a full-screen photo of the lovely fountain in front of the Smithsonian museum. Under it, a bold headline: “Melissa Chiu must resign.”
Go to benjamingenocchio.com (that’s Chiu’s husband’s name), and you are redirected to the same site.
It’s impossible to tell who owns the sites — they were purchased on Sept. 18 through a service that offers buyers anonymity. But it’s clearly someone who isn’t a fan of Chiu, who has ruffled feathers in Washington for moves like holding the museum’s anniversary gala in Manhattan instead of Washington and for hiring a curator who will continue to live in New York. (The sole link on the site takes users to a Washington Post story about the gala.)
There’s no profit motive: Unlike many other domain-squatters, they’re apparently not looking to sell.
Chiu wouldn’t comment on the matter.
Josh Bourne, president of the Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse says it’s a cautionary tale for anyone in the public eye — not just A-list actors or pols. Buying one’s own domain name, or the most predictable version of it you can, is just basic hygiene in 2015.
There’s really nothing the Hirshhorn chief can do about it, he adds, for a variety of reasons, including that the site doesn’t attempt to profit, so it’s covered by the First Amendment’s free-speech protections.
His advice? “Pay the 10 bucks a year.”