Let’s say you are someone who has recently returned from traveling in West Africa. You have visited an Ebola-ravaged country. You are understandably worried about contracting the disease during this worst-ever epidemic and, upon returning home, you catch a fever. You might then go online to try to find information about the disease and to assess whether the crippling fear you are experiencing is, in fact, well placed. That search might lead you to Ebola.com, but little do you know that that site is nothing but a moneymaking ploy.
In today’s information economy, there are few more useless money-grubbers than domain squatters, and that is exactly who owns Ebola.com. Blue String Ventures, the company sitting on the domain, is asking for a mere $150,000 to transfer ownership of the site.
"Ebola.com would be a great domain for a pharmaceutical company working on a vaccine or cure, a company selling pandemic or disaster-preparedness supplies, or a medical company wishing to provide information and advertise services," Jon Schultz, Blue String’s president, told CNBC. "There could be many other applications as well. With so many people concerned about the disease, any advertisement referring people to Ebola.com should get an excellent response."
So far, more than 4,000 people have died of the virus, and on Monday, the director of the World Health Organization, Margaret Chan, called the outbreak "unquestionably the most severe, acute public health emergency in modern times." Naturally, there is money to be made.
Schultz called his $150,000 price tag "not a tremendous amount for a premium domain."