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Cybersquatting on Twitter

Alex Christie

13 March 2009

Twitter, the micro-blogging website, has been seen as hosting of a new form of cybersquatting. A number of high-profile celebrity names have been taken by people and fake updates posted. But it not only celebrity names that is being affected as big brand names such as Adidas, South West Trains, Coca-Cola and Sainsbury have proven to be fake profiles on Twitter.

Debenhams have recently been forced to launch their twitter profile under the name “Debenhamsretail” as their Brand name was taken, Ann Hartland, Debenhams web content manager, said “It was disappointing not to get our name and we're still not sure who has it.

But to get round it we had to make it obvious ours was the official page. If you're posting good content, the audience should be able to recognise the official page."
According to Charlie Abrahams, VP EMEA for the brand protection company MarkMonitor, cybersquatting has increased by 18% in the last year and he advises that brands have to take ownership of their names and register their names and user IDs on social networks.

A Twitter profile apparently for South West Trains is actually a page where a commuter complains about bad experiences they've had with the train company. Chris Bishop, online acquisition manager at House of Fraser, said that with social websites emerging all the time, it can be difficult for brands to prove accountability.

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