How to Find Out Who Sponsors a Website

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There are useful tools on the Web for tracking down site ownership.
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Some websites have little mystery to them when it comes to site ownership or sponsorship. Google owns The federal government sponsors However, figuring out the powers-that-be behind the scenes of other websites can be quite a challenge. Many sites, whether for businesses, political organizations, nonprofit groups, schools or bloggers, are designed to make it hard to identify who created or supports the site. With some online tools, patience and good research skills, you can usually find out who sponsors a particular website.


Check the Whois Record

Websites record their ownership information in publicly available registrar records. Although many websites mask their true ownership by contracting with service companies to handle the registration for them, many others do not. The only way to know for certain is to check ownership information on the website's "whois" record. Sites like and provide full whois records that include the name of the registering person or company along with other information such as the registrant's address and original registration date. Be careful, though, as some of the whois look-up services provide only partial records and may not include ownership information.

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Click 'About Us'

Sites often include an About Us section. It generally gives a fuller description of the site that may include ownership and sponsorship information. The link to the About Us section may be obvious, but on some sites, it can be tucked away in small type in a corner of the page or at the bottom.


Dig Into Policies

Other sometimes hard-to-locate links are the site policies covering topics like privacy, terms of use, copyright, trademark, licensing and other legal and contractual matters. These are often small-font links near the bottom of the page. Because of the legal nature of the language, the site polices sometimes include ownership and sponsor information that is not evident in other areas of the website. For example, PayPal's privacy policy identifies eBay as the site's parent company. If the website lists a link to a site map, which is an index of all the pages at the site, this is another fruitful area to look for policy and other pages that may include sponsor information.


Examine the Archive

Today's version of a page on the Web may not have much information on ultimate sponsors, but the version of the site that existed last year or five years ago may have been more informative. Check for historical versions of the page you are interested in at the Internet Archive. Bear in mind that the information you retrieve is dated and not necessarily still current.



Research Corporate Relationships

Even if a website's owner and sponsor information doesn't turn up from a whois query or from the site itself, there may be more information on the Web about the entities involved. Enter the site name in quotes in a search field and see what a general Internet search reveals. Search specifically at Facebook and LinkedIn as these resources often have additional information about connections between people and companies. Check with your local librarian, as the library may have access to specialty business databases that can be helpful as well.



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