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Library’s Website Taken Over by Sex Dolls

When people navigate to hamptonpubliclibrary.org, they aren’t seeing a website for checking out books from a small town’s public library, as one might assume—but an image of a man having doggy-style sex with a face-down sex doll. 

According to local news outlet WAVY, a woman in Hampton, Virginia navigated to that URL thinking it belonged to the local public library, and discovered that the website now belongs to a business called Hampton Adult Toy Store. According to captures saved on the Internet Archive, it’s been this way since at least March.

“Welcome to Hampton Adult Toy Store also known as HATS – we’re the premiere destination for your adult toy needs,” the site’s About section says. “We got a wide variety of toys to choose from – starter accessories like vibrators, pocket pussies, dildos are most common and they’re all of good quality.” Mostly, however, it’s dedicated to posting short articles about sex dolls, like “How A Sex Doll Might Actually Help A Marriage” and “Can Sex Dolls Be Set Up For Acrobatic Sex Positions?” 

The city claims that someone pretending to be a city employee contacted the domain registrar and transferred the old URL to their ownership, and that the registrar didn’t notify the city or library. The city addressed the controversy on Tuesday, on its official Facebook page. “We learned today from a WAVY reporter that the old web address now goes to a retail site that you don’t want your kids to see — and may not want to see yourself,” the post says. “Our research so far shows that someone impersonated a city employee, contacted our domain registration company, and transferred the old URL. We were never notified.” 

It also suggests library patrons bring in their old library cards to get a sticker that lists the correct URL for the library—and recommends taking possession of childrens’ cards in the meantime, “as this story is making headlines and kids are curious.”  

“Hampton apologizes for this, but please know we were also duped or hacked. No one connected with the city had anything to do with this,” the city wrote.  

Hampton Communications Strategist Robin McCormick told WAVY that the city converted to a new URL, www.hampton.gov/100/Libraries, for the library system about 10 years ago. Most domain registrations last between one to 10 years, and then expire, allowing anyone to take it over and use the URL for whatever they want—as was the case earlier this year when a vaccine finder website’s registration lapsed last year and was overtaken by incest porn. Dormant websites that used to be popular but no longer have active administrators maintaining them are sometimes a target of people trying to boost their own search engine optimization by taking it over for themselves.

It’s not clear, however, what the adult website is selling or if the business even exists. It doesn’t offer anything for sale on the site. There are a ton of sex shops in Hampton and the surrounding region, but none with the name Hampton Adult Toy Store; the only other evidence of this place online is its Facebook page, which has been inactive since December 2021 and only made a handful of posts, mostly profile photo changes.

Public libraries around the country are under fire right now, as conservative and ring-wing efforts to ban books, censor diverse works, and falsely accuse educators and librarians of “grooming” children increases. In July, a public library in Iowa shut down after residents harassed its workers out of their jobs, with the residents claiming that the library was advancing a “liberal agenda” by hiring staff “who are openly part of the LGBTQ community.” In August, a Michigan town voted to defund its public library because it offers books about LGBTQ+ people; white supremacists have targeted multiple libraries recently for hosting Pride-themed events. 

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