Taliban Shuts Down ‘Queer.af’ Platform That Used Afghanistan Domain Because It Seemed Clever at the Time

by JOHN HAYWARD at breitbart.com

The “Queer.af” instance of the open-source social media platform Mastodon disappeared on Monday, along with many other domains and websites, because the Taliban regime abruptly decided to take control of Afghanistan’s domain servers.

The .af extension is meant to evoke two entirely different words that sound amusing when appended to adjectives like “queer,” but in truth, .af is the top-level domain extension for the nation of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s U.S.-backed government was overthrown by the Muslim extremists of the Taliban following President Joe Biden’s botched withdrawal in 2021. After a surprisingly long interval, the Taliban regime appears to have finally noticed what foreigners were using .af domain names for.

The Verge on Monday quoted website administrators who said the Taliban initially gave fairly generous notice about shutting domains down, but then changed its mind and started pulling plugs without further notice:

Erin Shepherd, the administrator of the instance and key ActivityPub developer, told the outlet they were already planning “to shut things down” instead of renewing in April, but that the early termination was a surprise. An email from the Afghanistan Ministry of Communications and IT that Shepherd posted said that the queer.af domain had been suspended and that websites or emails connected with it “will cease working shortly.” The instance had been in place since July 2018, 404 writes, as a place “for those who are queer or queer-adjacent who would like a more pleasant social media experience.”

Shepherd said in another post that all .af domains acquired through the Gandi domain registrar had been shutdown, mentioning inet.af as one. We’ve reached out to Gandi to verify and to ask for more information, but at the moment, a message on Gandi.net says that the registrar is no longer registering, renewing, transferring, or restoring .af domain names. Internet Archive captures show the site had already stopped taking new registrations for the domain extension by October 2020 and disabled renewals of it by November of last year.