(NEXSTAR) – For about a week, a website was circulating in California called AURS, which stands for Anonymous Unvaccinated Reporting System. The site prompted visitors to “Earn extra cash! Report unvaccinated Family, Friends & Neighbors (FFNs) anonymously online.” The names would be sent to local public health authorities, the site claimed.
This website was not sanctioned by the state of California, which is not encouraging people to report their unvaccinated friends. The man who created it, David Bramante, says he didn’t even mean for people to really turn in their neighbors. He meant it as satire, but not everyone got the joke.
“My goal with the site is to point out how dangerously close we are as society to having a company like AURS exist; a world where friends, family and neighbors are reporting each other to a third-party website and local authorities,” Bramante wrote on his website.
He’s running against Gov. Gavin Newsom in the recall election this year. He said the site was intended to make a point about vaccine passports.
He said in the time the site was live, from Aug. 2 to Aug. 9, the site had more than 300,000 visitors and received 2,000 “reports.” About 90% of those reports, Bramante said, were complaints about the nature of AURS. (Bramante later revised those numbers upward in a statement to Nexstar, saying he received more than 3,200 reports in total, 99% of which were “fake submissions in protest of AURS.”)
Still, there were many instances of people submitting the names of their unvaccinated friends, family members or acquaintances.
Bramante decided Monday his point had been made, and redirected the site to his campaign’s homepage.
“My goal is not to expose people that are snitching on friends, family and neighbors, but instead get people more aware about where these COVID mandates could be leading us,” he said in an email to Nexstar.
“I’m very sorry for the scare, but I’m so appreciative to those who have contacted me and understand my goal, and are now helping our mission,” he wrote online.
When asked what he did with all the reports he received of unvaccinated Californians, Bramante said he’s the only one who had access to the database and he deleted those names.