What is TypoSquatting? It’s not necessarily what you would call the pinnacle of “business ethics”.
According to Wikipedia, “typosquatting, also called URL hijacking, is a form of cybersquatting which relies on mistakes such as typographical errors”. If you were a typosquatter for example, what you would do, as many have already done, is buy up domain names like “faecbook.com”, which is purposefully misspelled, with the intention of getting traffic from typos.
While the press can’t seem to get enough of “Occupy Wall Street”, too little has been written on “Occupy Twitterr”.
I read a great piece on recent typosquatting activity in Bloomberg BusinessWeek titled: “When You Mean Facebook but Type Faecbook”. The article basically outlines the kinds of malicious behavior many typosquatting sites pursue, and the resulting damages.
In addition to stealing web traffic from BIG and high volume sites like Google, some typosquatting domains steal information from unknowing victims of misspells.
Because of this, huge corporations like Facebook are suing “typosquatters, that the social network site contends are infringing on the company’s trademarks, using domain names such as facebobk.com, facemook.com, and faecbook.com”. Not only are lawsuits expensive, but also extremely time consuming.
That being said, this begs the question:
Is typosquatting wrong?
I personally think that typosquatting itself isn’t inherently wrong, per se.
Because the Internet is a new and ever-changing public arena, people are continuously finding ways to profit from it. To me, typosquatting is the same as buying up domains that aren’t misspells, with the purpose of holding them and reselling them at a later date.
Although it’s not the most honest type of business to build, I see no issue with purchasing domains like “goggle.com”, as long as the site isn’t used to steal information.
In fact, in a free market economy such as the United States, I believe this type of behavior will further foster an environment where startups and growing corporations will have the foresight to buy up their own misspelled domains, and beat typosquatters at their own game.
Although typosquatting is definitely dishonest and can be a real thorn in the side of corporations, I’m unconvinced that the activity is illegal or even immoral…
SheBytes would love to hear how you feel about typosquatting! Get the conversation started in the below commments 😉