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Guess who owns facebook.co.za? Not Facebook.

It looks like Facebook doesn’t own facebook.co.za, its South African domain? I’m surmising this from the fact that:

1. it appears from the co.za registration data that the owner of Facebook.co.za lives in Cape Town.
2. it may be that the domain was registered on behalf of Facebook by the local, but I have my doubts because when you go to Facebook.co.za you are presented with a stark page containing nothing but Google ads, and I doubt Facebook would do this.
3. if it was Facebook’s domain, it would have been diverted to Facebook.com

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If this is what I think it is, not registering facebook.co.za was a big oversight by the Facebook owners. This is especially so if you consider there are now more than 100 000 South African users on Facebook, making it the sixth biggest country, after the US, Canada, the UK, Norway and Australia, based on the number of registered users. (According to FM Tech’s Duncan Mcleod).

Depending on when the domain was registered, Facebook may or may not have a claim of cybersquatting. If it was registered after Facebook.com launched the domain, the owner could be in trouble. But if registered before Facebook.com launched, then the owner of facebook.co.za could be in for some money and have a legitimate claim… but only if its around another legitimate local business.

But I can’t see where the legitimate business is. The solitary block of Google Adsense on the single page that is facebook.co.za looks like a cynical attempt to make money from users that waywardly and mistakenly end up on the local site, looking for the genuine Facebook site. There is really nothing else, no content, that would attract them to the co.za, otherwise. The idea is that they would end up clicking on one of those Google ad links, netting the co.za owner some dollars.

In fact it’s also illegal, because Google insists you put Adsense on legitimate content pages. And there is no content on this rather sparse local branch of the international runaway social networking success that is Facebook.

If you go to co.za who administrate local South African domains, you can do a whois to find out more about when the domain was registered and who owns it. See screenshot of Facebook.co.za below:

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