by Ed Seaford, Managing Director of brandsec
Earlier last week, a member from the media contacted me if I knew any way to provide them with a list of Facebook’s domain names and update them on any new registrations.
I wasn’t surprised by the request. The Facebook (FB) re-brand was all over the media with reports suggesting that it would focus on its metaverse plans.
Getting FB’s list of known domain names is relatively easy. When a company like FB registers a domain name, the details of the registration (creation date, expirations date, name servers) and the Registrant (org, address, phone, email etc) are saved in a publicly available database called WHOIS.
By conducting what is called a Reverse Whois anyone can search for domains connected to a specific Registrant’s organization, an individual’s name or email address.
A Reverse Whois on “Facebook, Inc” and “firstname.lastname@example.org” uncovered over 10,000 domain names that provided some interesting insights into Facebook the company, but none of the domains contained the term “meta” or “metaverse”.
We also set up a monitor alert for any new domain names registered to Facebook Inc and associated businesses, which didn’t provide any insight relevant to the re-brand.
Facebook cleverly registered the domain name meta.com using a privacy service that hides the details from public scrutiny. They didn’t register their domain name with their Corporate Registrar, instead chose one of the largest Retail Registrars in the world, which rendered monitoring tools relatively ineffective.
Domain Investors speculation turned out to be correct
Domain investors are an extremely knowledgeable bunch and with regards to the FB re-brand correctly guessed the domain name would be meta.com.
On 20 October, a good week before the announcement, a Twitter user by the name of @rwyno responded to another Domain Investor that FB was possibly behind the domain name meta.so. They tweeted:
They already own https://t.co/9LM3Z2vH1j which points to https://t.co/nSPw4aAzpG, driven by his wife’s organization. My thought is a parent called ‘Meta’, with Facebook, WhatsApp, Horizon, Instagram etc as sub brands. If true, I’d revise any meta* BINs right now as a precaution..
— rwy✨👀 (@rwyno) October 20, 2021
The domain name had been hiding in plain site, and was registered to Facebook the entire time, they were just clever enough to separate it from their corporate portfolio and used a privacy service that provided enough protection to keep the re-brand under wraps.
brandsec is a corporate domain name management and brand protection company that looks after many of Australia, New Zealand and Asia’s top publicly listed brands. We provide monitoring and enforcement services, Enterprise DNS, SSL management, domain name brokerage and dispute management and brand security consultation services.