Domain registrar Namecheap said on Wednesday it will no longer allow any new website applications containing the terms “coronavirus,” “covid,” and “vaccine,” among other varieties of phrases and words referring to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Los Angeles-based company claims the move is to avoid harassment and fraud from sites seeking to sell fake items and disinformation, and to capitalize on the current global health crisis otherwise.
“There are always those who try to take advantage of crisis situations by carrying out acts of fraud. In response, we are actively working with authorities to both proactively prevent, and take down, any fraudulent or abusive domains or websites related to COVID-19,” the company writes in its statement.
Namecheap said businesses and website owners can register for a domain name that includes one of the now-banned terms through their support department, which “will be available to review and register it for you manually upon your request.”
Coronavirus-related fraud and violence has become common online in recent months, as the scenario has worsened across the world and countless governments have stopped attempting to stop the spread of the disease. That has contributed to a surge of countermeasures from big and small technology companies. Amazon, eBay and other online retailers have begun deleting listings that make misleading statements about coronavirus, as well as banning the selling of health products such as face masks and hand sanitizer.
Large media companies including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have all begun to work together and take more proactive positions on moderating possible crisis-related disinformation and fake material.