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A Web Of Solidarity

12 January 2015 by Katherine Kelly

The world is still reeling from the Paris shootings, but in the wake of the destruction it has also come together with a message of support: ‘Je Suis Charlie’. The internet can be a place where hatred is spread, but it’s also a global community that rallies together at times like these; and the domain database search tool WHOIS has found a unique way to get involved.

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We’ve talked a bit about WHOIS before in relation to gTLDs and ICANN – it’s the tool that’s used to search the giant database of domain registrant details. Following the Charlie Hebdo shootings the French internet authorities have turned a small piece of it into a message of support, coming from the heart of the internet itself.

If you now send a query for a French (for example, .fr) website to WHOIS, they display ‘JE SUIS CHARLIE’ in text art alongside the results. AFNIC, the French non-profit corporation that operates the country’s top-level domains, put this into place and it’s both a haunting reminder, and another small beacon of solidarity in the online world.

AFNIC posted a comment on Twitter in French and English after the shootings, saying that: “With .fr our commitment to freedom of speech is total”; and for most of us, the internet is nothing if not a place where we can freely express ourselves. The message works for domains ending .fr, .re, .tf, .wf, .pm and .yt.

The circumstances are awful, but it’s a reminder that the internet isn’t just for trolling Facebook, tumbling down Reddit rabbit holes and ogling celebrity trout pouts; there are times when it reminds us that we are all connected, and that can be a pretty amazing thing.

Our CEO Lawrence Jones also commented on the situation.