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e-Briefing

Gossip Site Proves That Talk Is Cheap

March 08, 2001|DAVID COLKER | david.colker@latimes.com

The vicious gossip site http://www.schoolrumors.com--with its racist, homophobic and grossly graphic content posted by San Fernando Valley students about one another--caused a lot of turmoil until it was shut down late last week.

But establishing a site such as Schoolrumors.com--and staying anonymous while doing so--is not difficult for the Net savvy. Nor is it costly.

A site's name, called its domain, must be registered to establish its ownership and keep it unique. Schoolrumors.com was registered in December by Register.com, a New York-based company that charges $35 a year for the service.

Register.com asks its customers to give a street address and telephone number but doesn't always check on the accuracy of this information, according to company spokeswoman Valerie Krislibas. Schoolrumors.com gave its street location as Valjean Avenue in Las Vegas. Valjean doesn't exist there, but it does in the San Fernando Valley.

Register.com does check the accuracy of customers' billing addresses, but Krislibas said that information was private.

To host the site on the Internet, Schoolrumors.com chose Invite Internet Inc., located in Denver, which charges $8.95 to $29.95 a month depending on the amount of data accessed on the site.

Invite shut down Schoolrumors.com on Friday after receiving several telephone and e-mail complaints about the site's content. The immediate shutdown came because of the discrepancy between the registration and billing addresses, company owner Rainey Schuyler said. "We had some questions we needed the site owner to answer," he said, disclosing that the site owner was in Northridge. The site owner called Monday but hung up, Schuyler said, after being put on hold for a moment.

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