After trying to learn more this weekend about the folks involved in the Million Student March student group, I learned you can send a kid to college, but you can’t make him think.
The decision to learn more about these young people came to me early Saturday morning while putting together my latest weekly recap which included a mention of a now-famous video of Neil Cavuto’s recent Fox Business interview of Keely Mullen, a young female college student identified as the national organizer of the Million Student March. Based upon her interview performance, I concluded she could not have been “the brains” behind the student group and decided to find out who else is at the heart of the misguided movement.
I started by visiting the ICANN WHOIS website where one can find details about who is responsible for a domain name or an IP address. There, I typed in the domain name for the group’s website (which I will not share because that’s my prerogative as owner of this website). Next, I filled in a Captcha blank and clicked on the “LOOKUP” button. Milliseconds later, I was shocked to find the personal information (i.e., phone number, physical address and email address) of the person who had registered the domain (which I will not share for the same reason). When creating or buying a website, registration information has to be given to ICANN as it is responsible for setting up domain names and IP addresses on the internet. Alas the creator of the student group website did not know this and may not have used a credible website builder like B12 when making it. Many website makers can advise you that your registration information is kept on this public website and advise you to edit how it appears. After all, Zuckerberg’s phone number is not listed when you search for Facebook.
After grabbing a few screenshots of the personal information, I concluded that I had two options:
1) I could expose this person’s personal information for all the world — including individuals previously unaware of the ICANN WHOIS website as well as potentially-violent folks on the opposite side of the philosophical arena — to see; or
2) I could use the person’s phone number to contact him and advise him to purchase private registration immediately. Why? So that he might avoid being found by the aforementioned “potentially-violent folks” who might wish to do him harm because they disagree with his political philosophy.
Perhaps, because I can’t shake my fatherly instincts (I’ve put one son through college while a second is in college and a third about to enroll but we are still to decide on which Bloomsburg housing will suit him best), I chose Option #2. Before exercising that option, however, I decided to learn more about this person and found the following:
• This person is co-founder with Mullen of the student activism group; he has given interviews to numerous national media outlets; and he has written at least one pro-communism article for at least one socialist online publication;
• This person is a third-year student at a very expensive and well-known university in New England;
• This person is under 21 years of age; and
• In addition to being a co-founder with Mullen, this person teamed up with her to create both the group’s website and the group’s Facebook page (links to which I will not share) as tools to call students nationwide to action.
I dialed this young person’s phone number at 12:48 p.m. Central Saturday afternoon, careful to block my own phone number from appearing in his Caller ID. After all, I didn’t know whether or not he was a genuine nut job or simply a misguided college student. After a technical glitch surfaced during the first attempt, he answered the second time I called and our brief conversation began. He seemed like the typical college student of today and it was telling that the first thing he did on the phone was brag that he knew where to get a fake ID. Admittedly, 18 year old would have impressed.
I told him I was an investigative reporter who, while insisting on remaining anonymous, had something important to share with him. Having gotten his attention, I continued by telling him I wholeheartedly disagree with the philosophy embodied in the Million Student March, but felt obligated to offer some advice that might prevent him from enduring bodily harm.
My advice came out something like this: “You need to obtain private registration for your domain so that your personal information is not visible on the ICANN WHOIS website for anyone, including those who might wish to do you harm, to find.”
I could sense he was paying very close attention while still a bit confused.
To emphasize how important it was for him to complete the recommended task, I reminded him I had reached him by dialing the very phone number listed on the ICANN WHOIS website. I hammered home my point by reading out loud to him the rest of his personal information I had found online, including his email address and a physical address — which I assume belongs to his parents or another relative in a state not too far away from where he attends school.
When he told me he had, indeed, received several threats as a result of his newfound notoriety, I recommended he move — at least until the situation settled down a bit — in case someone who didn’t have his best interests in mind had also found his personal information online.
Our short conversation ended with him thanking me. And that, I think, is the difference between a conservative and a socialist. A true conservative is willing to help safeguard the life of a young, impressionable and naive college student even if that student is pushing a political agenda that makes no sense whatsoever. But, per the headline above, the story does not end there.
When I finished writing my first version of this piece, it included his name, exact age, the university he attends and the domain for his group’s website, but it did not include his phone number or addresses — email and physical, that is. I planned to publish the piece Saturday afternoon after I was able to confirm this young person had taken my advice.
When I checked the ICANN WHOIS website Saturday at 2 p.m., the information was still visible on the site, indicating this young person had still not taken action to protect it.
When I checked later that night, nothing had changed.
Same thing Sunday morning, afternoon and evening. Same thing Monday morning.
It seems as if this young person — half of the “brain trust” responsible for launching a student movement purported to be national in scope — doesn’t care whether or not his personal information is available to be found by anyone familiar with the ICANN WHOIS website.
Fully realizing it won’t take anyone long to figure out who this kid is, I feel as if I’ve done as much as I can to give him a chance. And now you understand the inspiration for the headline, atop this article.
UPDATE 11/17/2015 at 8:55 a.m. Central: As of two minutes ago, he still hasn’t acted to protect his personal info. smh
UPDATE 11/19/2015 at 8:15 a.m. Central: He still hasn’t acted to protect his personal info.
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