Microsoft Censoring .info domains in MSN Messenger

August 05th, 2007 – 37 Comments

As most regular readers know, I own, and because of that, I talk quite a bit about it on MSN messenger. Recently, I started getting problems when I was sending links with in it to my contacts. Tonight, after doing a bit more research, I found out that ALL .info domains are being censored in Messenger. For some silly reason, Microsoft seems to think that all .info domains are bad. .biz domains don’t get censored though…

Now it has been known for quite a while that MSN censors URL’s, as covered here for instance, but I had not ever heard of them censoring out complete TLD‘s… This is, IMHO, insane… Come on Microsoft, stop doing this sort of nonsense!

37 Responses to Microsoft Censoring .info domains in MSN Messenger

  1. MKe
    By MKe on 18 September, 2007

    “We understand that this may bring inconvenience on your end but given the circumstances, this action is really necessary”

    No. It. Is. Not.

    This is one of the dumbest moves from Microsoft since a long time… and it ain’t even protecting anything (see tinyurl and such..)

  2. Wasatch Software
    By Wasatch Software on 31 August, 2007

    This is pretty ridiculous. Microsoft is certainly wrong here, but I can only hope they had good intentions like increasing IM security or something.

  3. PocketSEO
    By PocketSEO on 16 August, 2007

    Easy workaround: use Jabber and tell your friends to start making the switch :)

    Free Jabber account:
    or if you have a Dreamhost account you can use their Jabber server with your own domain name, e.g.,

    Gmail chat runs on Jabber so you can chat with Gmail contacts even if you are using a different Jabber server like

  4. absorbation
    By absorbation on 10 August, 2007

    In fact there is a full list of blocked extensions, and there is more than you think. Also this method slows down Messenger a lot as it checks strings on the server and the client side. This is real sloppy programming by Microsoft.

  5. Keith
    By Keith on 7 August, 2007

    In another word, all .info domains will be less visible in the search engine, and probably less valuable. I am hoping Microsoft secured their Windows Live Messenger as soon as possible. This shouldn’t be the case.

  6. Rosco
    By Rosco on 7 August, 2007

    Here is the relevant parts of reply I got from MS support:

    ‘…we’ve received a report that there is a worm or a malicious software that’s spreading in Windows Live Messenger in the form of a specific link that has “.info” in it. Part of the target is users of Windows Live Messenger and if they click on the link, they are led to a website asking for their Windows Live ID credentials. If a user provided the credentials, all of the contacts on the said account will receive the message with the “.info” domain site link. Thus, making the worm spread.

    Obviously, this malicious intention is not a Microsoft sponsored effort. Therefore, in order to prevent it from propagating, Microsoft took the action of blocking instant messages that has “.info” to protect our customers. However, this action may block other safe and reputable sites that also contain “.info”.

    We understand that this may bring inconvenience on your end but given the circumstances, this action is really necessary. Don’t worry though. We are continuously investigating on other ways to protect our customers from this threat.’

    So basically they’ve hobbled their IM service to cater for idiots that blindly click every link they see.


  7. dwergs
    By dwergs on 6 August, 2007

    In fact, we reported this July 28th at with the following explanatory post:

    Block checker phishing on the rise, Microsoft blocks .info completely

    Every year I alert Messers to the dangers of self-proclaimed “block checkers”, but still many and even advanced computerists fall victim to phishing efforts disguised as fairytales. Really, a block checker is as trustworthy as a bedridden grandmother with hairy ears and pointy teeth.

    A lot of these deceptive sites appear to be hosted on the once-free, now low-priced .info top-level domain using names such as newmsnlive, msnforyou, messengerweb, msnblog, etc. And because these URLs are unknowingly being spread by victims as instant messages to their online contacts (eg. “Snif, get surprise at http://www.***.info/ Unbelievable!”), Microsoft has made the drastic decision to block all messages containing “.info”. Filtering messages containing “.pif” or “.scr” is one thing, but this overprotective move prevents us from sharing links to perfectly safe sites (and I know a lot of you have registered .info domains for personal use). I agree that phishing should be fought back as much as possible, but this is just absurd! And they could at least make the server return an alert that the sent message has been blocked and hasn’t reached its destination.

  8. Wertigon
    By Wertigon on 6 August, 2007

    Duncan: Adium doesn’t encrypt chats if the client you’re sending to doesn’t support encryption. Which is the case with most MSN clients.

  9. codeman38
    By codeman38 on 6 August, 2007

    Even worse, they’re not just blocking .info domains– they’re blocking *anything* that just happens to have “.info” as a substring.

    Thus, is taboo as well. As is the favorite of .NET GUI programmers, MessageBoxIcon.Information.

  10. Duncan
    By Duncan on 5 August, 2007

    I use adium and set it to always encrypt chats, so this kind of microsoft tomfoolery doesn’t affect me.

  11. Craig
    By Craig on 5 August, 2007

    I have a solution…Simply don’t use MSN! I do not like MSN at all. Just use AOL and Yahoo instead of feeding the Microsoft machine. Screw them.

  12. Glen
    By Glen on 5 August, 2007

    There are more .tv domains that are toxic than .info. I’m not saying that either of those don’t have some very safe, innocuous domains, and I DON’T advocate censorship in any form under even the most well-meaning of excuses, but as an overall policy, if you insist on blocking a particular tld, block .tv

  13. Gerard Braad
    By Gerard Braad on 5 August, 2007

    And what about sending TinyURLs? (
    This way you hide the document and tld part.

  14. nova
    By nova on 5 August, 2007

    this is done server side.
    Ive tested this using trillian, msnim, and pidgin, with each combo on each side, and the message never gets through. It has nothing to do with the client you use, though, if you use the actual msnim program, you do get an error message. i didnt with the other programs i tried.

  15. william kasel
    By william kasel on 5 August, 2007

    In reply to what someone said above about microsoft reading your content. Lets think programming, I guarantee this is done client side not server side, ergo Microsoft doesn’t have to read anybody’s messages.

  16. aw93053
    By aw93053 on 5 August, 2007

    The reason for this is because of the cheap availability of .info domains. The registry, Afilias, is trying to get their statistics up and offers the .info domains for as low as a dollar a piece. This in turn enables spammers and people trying to make a quick buck from Adsense or similar advertising programs to register lare amounts of .info domains for very little money.

    The same goes for .cn domains at the moment (CNNIC even extended the promotional period because it is so successful).

  17. Liam
    By Liam on 5 August, 2007

    moral of the story is not use a communication method that is seriously insecure, and non encrypted(as far as I know on MSN live, could be proved wrong).

    If it is the case that MS are censoring private messages that they have no right to be monitoring so closely.

    Good place for nice secure emails:
    Uses a java web applet to key encryption on all emails if requested.

    not quite IM. but a free and safe way to communicate online.
    Paid for plans are quite decent rate also.

  18. Darren Sim
    By Darren Sim on 5 August, 2007

    man that sucks, i just tested it, i cant believe they’ve done this, i can only thank the fact out of the 2 dozen domains i own, none are .info’s. I have to wonder how long however it’ll be before they block other TLD’s and/or filenames :S


  19. jesstech
    By jesstech on 5 August, 2007

    Next they’ll be in cahoots with MySpace, tryin’ to steal our ‘i’s! Don’t let Microsoft get away with this!

  20. Jason Cox
    By Jason Cox on 5 August, 2007

    Hello from Digg-
    Welcome to the front page, but unfortunatly this is pretty old news.

  21. Sn4ke
    By Sn4ke on 5 August, 2007

    mind i use simpserver because my noob friends use windows+windows messenger and they wont switch to gaim just to talk with me but msn is shit. It gets loaded with users, you can be sure they log all im message and even if you encrypt with something they still logged that, so with resources they can decrypt it… Don’t trust in msn, don’t give off sensitive stuff on msn. If u don’t want censored bullshit switch to skype, gtalk but its gonna be hard to ask all your friend to do the same.

  22. Gary
    By Gary on 5 August, 2007

    I’ve also experienced censoring on php links that do not contain ‘download.php’

  23. mind
    By mind on 5 August, 2007

    no, microsoft -cannot- be doing this, because they can’t be reading the actual content of your messages, because you’re using gaim-encryption, RIGHT??? (if you’re not – shame on you, apt-get install gaim-encryption and you’re pretty much done. it’s not the best implementation, but it works, which is the important part)

  24. Steve
    By Steve on 5 August, 2007

    This is hilarious. Does anyone else think this may be some sort of practical joke played by an employee?


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