Earlier today, a website claiming to have potentially damning information about one of the presidential candidates appeared on the web: Calling itself An October Surprise, the site is pretty bare save for the text, "One of your presidential candidates isn't being honest with you. Stay tuned to find out which one it is," and a timer counting down to exactly 5:30 pm ET on October 22nd, which is when whatever possessed "evidence" the person behind the site has is set to be revealed. An official Twitter for the page, @OctSurprise, was set up as well to add more intrigue and mystery to the site, with tweets assuring users that the info they have is "rock solid" and "irrefutable."
Turns out, however, the website may not be exactly what it seems.
A quick Whois search into who owns the domain name comes up cold, because whoever registered the website through GoDaddy was smart enough to buy anonymity insurance from a Proxy site based in Scottsdale, Arizona, but going to October Surprise's name servers - one, and two - both redirect to a Chicago-based web design firm called Pausetime, which is also registered through GoDaddy.
A search into the registrar information for that website gives a little more info: The website is hosted under the same IP address (18.104.22.168) that October Surprise is, and the owner, Anthony Maro, is a professional based in Chicago, Illinois - who, according to his LinkedIn page, works for the Discovery Channel. AKA, the company that owns Animal Planet, which Twitter user @POWRSURG theorized could be behind October Surprise because they're "running a special pet election ... so this is a viral marketing campaign." Additionally, a quick search on Maro's Facebook page shows him posting a Gawker article about October Surprise at the same time that October Surprise's official Twitter did.
Could all be coincidence? There's more.
Going further into the Maro connection, a user on Fark posted this comment that's getting a lot of attention: Linking Maro to a website called What Is Occupy Wall Street About? - since expired, but also registered through GoDaddy - the user ran a registrar search and discovered it's owned by a Jeffery Hopwood, who, referring back to Maro's LinkedIn page, actually works with him at Discovery. Googling both Maro and Hopwood's names together links to a viral website posted in 2007 that claimed to have information on a new Radiohead album which, like October Surprise, had a countdown timer and everything as well. As it turned out, though, the guys actually had no info, and when the timer ran out, 20,000 subscribers were Rickrolled.
So, October Surprise...viral marketing gag, or innocent coincidences? You decide!
UPDATE: October Surprise, as well is its Twitter page, have been deleted. The website now redirects to Pausetime.