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After Domain Squatting, Twitter Squatting 201

Posted by timothy
from the kept-in-a-special-safe dept.
carusoj writes "Squatting on domain names is nothing new, but Twitter has created a new opportunity for squatters, in the form of Twitter IDs. Writes Richard Stiennon: 'Is there evidence of Twitter squatting (squitting?) Let's check. Yup, every single-letter TwitID is taken ... How about common words? Garage, wow, war, warcraft, Crisco, Coke, Pepsi, Nike, and Chevrolet are all taken. My guess is that Twitter squatters have grabbed all of these in the hopes that they will be worth selling in the not too distant future. Of course the legitimate holders of brands can sue for them and Twitter can just turn them over if asked. But, because the investment and risk for the squatter is zero, you are going to see the rapid evaporation of available Twitter IDs.'"
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After Domain Squatting, Twitter Squatting

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  • by OverlordQ (264228) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @02:03PM (#25559337) Journal

    So this is pretty much like every other social networking site where you have to pick a username?

    • Exactly. What is this Twitter they speak of?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Billhead (842510)
      I don't think this is about the website Twitter but the /. user twitter.
    • by eln (21727) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @02:13PM (#25559503) Homepage

      It's as if someone said, "You know, I like MySpace, but the blog posts there just aren't inane enough. I wish there was a site where people could quickly and easily share every minute of their boring lives with the world."

    • by causality (777677) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @02:30PM (#25559721)

      So this is pretty much like every other social networking site where you have to pick a username?

      Yes, Twitter is just one of the most trendy social networking sites right now so people are falling over themselves to act like the squatting of (or competition for) unique IDs in a limited namespace is somehow a new concept. Once you understand the simple concept, the specific application (be it domain names, Twitter usernames, etc) is mere trivia and doesn't really explain anything new but it passes for news. Refer to Henry David Thoreau's take on "the news" to get a better idea of where I'm coming from.

      Because Twitter is very trendy right now, in a few months people will probably stop talking about it as though old and well-known concepts are somehow different when applied to the site. Hell, if it's like a lot of trends, then it's possible that in a few months or so many people will not seem to know what you're talking about if you mention it, or they will speak of it like a vague memory.

      I should say that I'm all for using Twitter or any other site if you want to and especially if you enjoy it. What I am speaking against is the tendency to make a big deal out of nothing, to attach novelty and significance to events that are actually predictable and trivial.

      • There is a protocol to handle this [openid.net] already, and Twitter could've easily used it instead of randomly handing people whatever username came to mind.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          OpenID is great in theory, but has a couple of rather annoying implementation flaws—not the least of which is that there's no way to aggregate existing IDs from multiple providers into one "meta-OpenID".

          There's also the problem of providers like LiveJournal not giving full access to outside OpenID users—for example, you can comment with an OpenID, but you can't have a journal associated with that OpenID. Because of this, you're required to have multiple IDs with multiple providers. So not only d

        • by causality (777677) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @03:58PM (#25560957)

          There is a protocol to handle this [openid.net] already, and Twitter could've easily used it instead of randomly handing people whatever username came to mind.

          To be honest with you, I'm glad that OpenID or something like it has not taken off. I personally like the "chaotic Internet" where one login credential is entirely separate from another and it's up to me to keep track of them. Keeping up with them is a very tiny burden, I do it gladly, and there are plenty of good tools that make it a breeze. To me, the convenience of a system like OpenID is either non-existant or insignificant, while the privacy implications of not only making it easy to profile my browsing but also of doing most of the profiling work myself are severe. I'm sure that the proponents of OpenID have a long list of reasons why I should not worry about privacy implications, but I'm just not buying it. Once personal data is centralized, it has a nasty tendency to stay that way. That kind of accurate, self-managing, neatly profiled data is a marketer's wet dream.

          I'm one of those strange people who does things based on principle and a concept of whether this is really the best solution. So, for example, I block trackers like Google-analytics despite any argument or any evidence which demonstrates that it's really rather harmless. Why? Because I never signed any document or made any agreement giving any entity the right to track me and profile me. Personally, I need no other reason to make such tracking as difficult as possible, so I often laugh when I see the subject come up from time to time and I see all of these intricate arguments about what is and is not tracked and why you should or shouldn't worry about it. To me those are needless complications of what is actually a very simple issue. I assume that everyone has the right to privacy and that any entity which tries to reduce a user's privacy (no matter how benign the stated reason may be) without full disclosure and the express consent of that user is acting like an invasive force and that refusing to go along with it is only right and proper. Isn't that so much easier than all of these rationalizations for why we should accept the loss of privacy as though it were some inevitable landmark along the path of human progress? Beware of the motivations of anyone who wants you to believe that; they either have an agenda or a victim mentality and neither one is any good.

          So back to OpenID. The advantage: one-stop management of many online accounts. The disadvantage: yet more centralization of private data and an increased ease with which it could be disclosed (intentionally or otherwise). I will be harshly honest -- I think there is something seductive about promises of convenience and reduced effort (especially for things which are already very easy) and I likewise think that there is something cowardly about people who value such promises more than they value their own freedom and privacy. I am not referring to you personally with that sentence, but rather to the large numbers of people who will gladly trade what is priceless in exchange for what has a price and sincerely believe that they have found a bargain.

          • by Raenex (947668)

            I don't see much difference between a couple of hundred OpenID postings scattered across random blogs, news sites, and forums and several hundred postings to Slashdot under a single ID on a wide array of topics.

            Where OpenID shines is when you don't want to bother registering to make a single comment to some site you may never visit again. If you want to use different OpenID accounts for sites you visit frequently you can.

  • I don't use twitter at the moment or have any plans to, but I grabbed a few for myself that I may use in the future just to have them. I can't see anyone actually squatting them to stop me or asking me to pay up, but this way I avoid the situation all together.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Oh, good Idea.
  • Combatting Multis? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @02:05PM (#25559383) Journal
    Don't some sites implement an IP log to combat multi-account users? I've seen used extensively in games like Tribal Wars & Ikariam which are just browser based games because the implications are severe. They will ban you. You would think that Twitter would be able to spot accounts being created on the same IP. If the squatter uses an onion router or Tor to start the account, one would think those IP ranges would be easy to spot & block also.

    Yes, it is sacrificing a simple hands off policy for a complicated enforced one ... but if you're that worried about that kind of account squatting, why not? Also, this would eliminate people who might be spamming with twitter or using multiple accounts to game twitter. I don't know if those are serious problems but I would be surprised if they weren't.
    • by snl2587 (1177409)

      Twitter's user base includes a lot of people who would be sharing computers with family members who may also be using Twitter. Would you propose an IP block for them, too?

      • by Firehed (942385)
        That, and there are plenty of completely legitimate users for having multiple accounts. Leo Laporte for example (who arguably got the ball rolling for them with an early-on podcast) has several - personal, one for TWiT updates, etc. And given that he's the third most-followed user on the service, you can bet that the Twitter crew are well aware. Plenty of other people with businesses do the same, myself included. Different content for different audiences - unlike proper blogging, you can't easily break
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hognoxious (631665)

      You would think that Twitter would be able to spot accounts being created on the same IP.

      The same person always has the same IP? The same IP always belongs the same person?

      Wrong and wrong, but thanks for playing.

      • by vux984 (928602)

        The same person always has the same IP? The same IP always belongs the same person?

        The same IP has registered every word in the dictionary starting with F?

        Seriously, its bloody obvious there isn't a 1:1:1 mapping from IP to user to twitter account, and its true there is no way to separate a little bit of squatting from 'a family of twitter users', but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that that batch of 150,000 twitter accounts created from a particular ID, all linked to single gmail address, aren't

    • Wouldn't all users of a NAT'd subnet be seen as having the same IP from twitter's standpoint? In that case, Twitter would think that the same user is creating multiple accounts when in reality it's hundreds of users at a university or Internet cafe for example.
    • by skeeto (1138903)
      That would remove using Twitter through TOR, so no more anonymous twittering. How important is it be anonymous on Twitter? I have never used Twitter myself, so I can't say. If I did, having the option to be anonymous might be appealing to me, though.
  • Obligatory (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @02:05PM (#25559385)

    How many sock puppets does that guy need?!?!

  • by Scareduck (177470) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @02:05PM (#25559389) Homepage Journal
    See also [youtube.com]. Lore Sjoberg rips Twitter a new one, but it's only common sense; who frankly gives a damn?
  • Yeah (Score:4, Funny)

    by Daimanta (1140543) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @02:07PM (#25559411) Journal

    I heard that Twitter squatted around 100 kazillion accounts on Slashdot including some with prime numbers. If we don't watch out all prime numbers are going to be taken!

    • by pcolaman (1208838)
      We haven't even discovered all of the prime numbers, so how can this be the case? Plus, who the fuck cares about twitter?
      • by KGIII (973947) *

        I suppose that it depends on which twitter you're talking about.

        Wait, no... No one really gives a damn about T[t]witter.

  • by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @02:11PM (#25559459) Homepage Journal

    this is why my entire retirement plan consists of the thousands of facebook and myspace accounts that I have created.

  • Hear that? That's the sound of 4294967296 pots and 4294967296 kettles all crashing into each other simultaneously.
    • Because in fact you're right - naming is one of the things the Internet has difficulty with, and twitter's not doing significantly better than anybody else (except that it's much easier for them to take away my twitter name "SomebodyElsesTrademark" and give it to a more legitimate user of that name, though there are still obvious name collisions (like "acme" and "aaa" and "joesdiner" which have multiple users in different physical or logical spaces), so it's not like the problem is solved there either.)

      That

  • Yet another reason (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Baldrson (78598) * on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @02:12PM (#25559495) Homepage Journal
    This is yet another reason that in-place liquidation value [ar-int.com], rather than economic activity, should be the basis for taxation.
    • by oni (41625)

      I'm intrigued by this idea, but I have a question: how would you repeat the taxation each year? In other words, if I'm worth a million dollars and you tax me 100,000, what happens the next year? I'm worth 900,000. Do you tax me 90k, or do you stop taxing that money?

    • This is yet another reason that in-place liquidation value [ar-int.com], rather than economic activity, should be the basis for taxation.

      Perfect world merits of the proposal aside, that would be an assessment nightmare.

      • I disagree that it even has merit in a perfect world. You know what the easiest way to assess the value of an asset is? Sell it.

        Until the point at which the asset is sold, its value is pure conjecture. Whose house is worth exactly its assessed value? In this market?

        Instead of grafting a crappy arbitrary value onto an asset, a task whose only benefit is to provide economic welfare for appraisers, why not simply tax at the point where the value of the asset is irrevocably and objectively set?

        Ask the banks how

  • Squitting? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @02:13PM (#25559507)

    Why is twitter squatting squitting and not twatting?

  • Slashdot, too (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cerberusss (660701) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @02:13PM (#25559509) Homepage Journal

    What's pretty funny, is that this is the same on Slashdot. For instance I tried a few car brands and these all exist and have extremely low UIDs:
    http://slashdot.org/~mercedes [slashdot.org]
    http://slashdot.org/~ferrari [slashdot.org]
    http://slashdot.org/~ford [slashdot.org]
    http://slashdot.org/~fiat [slashdot.org]

    But also
    http://slashdot.org/~tefal [slashdot.org]
    http://slashdot.org/~aga [slashdot.org]
    http://slashdot.org/~farber [slashdot.org]
    exists so we have a few happy chef-cooks here as well :-)

  • by tpjunkie (911544) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @02:19PM (#25559609) Journal
    to use the term "twatter" or "twating" which I find much more hilarious than "squitting"
  • Yep. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wolfger (96957) <[wolfger] [at] [gmail.com]> on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @02:21PM (#25559631) Homepage
    Chrysler recently announced they were on Twitter, but the name was ChryslerCom or something like that. Squatters beat them to their own name. That's the problem with unique usernames, though. I mean, say your name (because your parents are insensitive clods) actually *is* Chevy... Should you be prevented from being "Chevy" online because a car company holds a trademark on that name? Is it really fair for the courts to just take something away from you and give it to a rich corporation?
    • by mschuyler (197441)

      Yeah, it's 'fair' as determined by the courts. There was a woman whose name was Sony who used it in her restaurant name: Sony's Restaurant. Sony sued. Sony won. Trademark law has a long and illustrious past. Once you get that (r) you're on the 'registered list' and that mark is inviolate--not just a 'tm' which is just a wannabe in comparison legally. You have to have a certain amount of 'time in grade' as a 'tm' before you qualify for (r).

      That's not the first time. In terms of surnames, netidentity.com swoo

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by pcolaman (1208838)
        Sony didn't win. The lady just couldn't afford to continue the legal battle and gave in. Because justice in our civil court system (and sometimes in the criminal side as well) is bought rather than won.
    • That's the problem with unique usernames, though. I mean, say your name (because your parents are insensitive clods) actually *is* Chevy.

      Don't talk like that about my grandmother, you insensitive clod!
      - Sincerely, Chevy Chase [wikipedia.org]

      • by KGIII (973947) *

        I'd never really thought about it before but many automobile manufacturers are based on names. Ford, Mercedes, Porche, Ferrari, Bob, etc...

        Well, no Bob yet but it could happen.

    • by causality (777677)

      Is it really fair for the courts to just take something away from you and give it to a rich corporation?

      You almost say that as though taking something away from you and giving it to a nearly bankrupt corporation would somehow be more justifiable. I realize you almost certainly don't believe that one is any better than the other (in fact to worry about whether I understand that is to miss my point). All I'm saying is that there is so much undue concern about wealth (usually someone else's) that it tends t

    • by pcolaman (1208838)
      You mean like that "used to be really good comedian but is now an asshat like most of the good comedians of the 80's" Chevy Chase?
    • if your using the name in a way that can damage the business and use the confusion of your ownership of it to further this goal then I say they should have the right to challenge your use. Now if you are using it to demonstrate how you were personally experienced bad service or a product and document it in a mature manner I think they can go take a hike.

      I have no problem with companynamesucks sites but I do have problems with companyname sites masquerading as a legitimate outlet of said company.

  • Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MahariBalzitch (902744) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @02:22PM (#25559645) Homepage
    How is this comparable to domain name squatting? Is a Twitter ID really as important as a domain name?
    • by pcolaman (1208838)
      I guess it depends on if you give a fuck about Twitter. I personally don't, so it isn't important to me.
  • Scientific (Score:5, Funny)

    by qoncept (599709) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @02:27PM (#25559687) Homepage
    What a wonderful "study." Check a bunch of names that you randomly presume would be desirable, find they are taken, and then assume their use isn't legit.

    I'm trying to find a way to tie my hatred of the very concept of twitter in to this but I can't, so I'll just make it a seperate statement.
  • by uncledrax (112438) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @02:32PM (#25559747) Homepage

    I love how TFA suggests you go out and shot-gun register anything associated with your brand.

    in short.. he's saying you should fight squatting by squatting it first.

    Gotta love that.

  • by matt me (850665) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @02:32PM (#25559753)

    Twitter has problems with downtime. Aas the number of users has grown (approximately exponentially, until approaching saturation), so has downtime.

    In 2011, twitter downtime will surpass 365 days per year.

  • What the fuck is a twitter? Can I spend it?
    • by pcolaman (1208838)
      LOL seriously I had no idea what Twitter even was. So I went to the site, watched the video on the site, and yeah...who the fuck finds Twitter useful, really? Like I give a shit if some dude who I might know likes baseball or not. If he's really a friend, do you think I won't know that he likes Baseball, and really if I didn't know, would it make my life less meaningful? Jesus, people need to open their doors and go outside for a few hours each day, their brains are starting to become oxygen deprived.
  • My guess is that Twitter squatters have grabbed all of these in the hopes that they will be worth selling in the not too distant future.

    Yeah, like all of those multimillionaires who made a fortune selling usernames on Friendster, and MySpace, and Facebook, and ... oh, wait ...

  • Does anyone have any idea HOW a twitter account could be worth anything to a massive corporation like Nike or Pepsi, when they can just as easily carpet bomb other media such as television and website banner ads. I just don't see twitter as an omnipresent advertising presence, unless someone can suggest a method that can be implementing that I'm just not seeing.

    Free to squat, but with no potential returns. How valuable is your time, is my question.

  • viral marketing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by owlnation (858981) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @03:01PM (#25560153)
    This is the 3rd piece of viral marketing from the Twitter jerks in as many days.

    Twitter jerks, we all know you are desperate. But understand this: your train has sailed. We know you are desperate to be bought out by some large company like Myspace was. It is NOT going to happen for you. The credit crunch makes that certain. Plus your crappy site never stays up more than 24 hours in a row. It's time to give up. Or at least SHUT UP, and stop spamming this site with marketing crap disguised as articles.
  • ...because the investment and risk for the squatter is zero, you are going to see the rapid evaporation of available Twitter IDs.
    The investment is only zero if your time has absolutely no value. Anybody who considers it worth their while to register hundreds of usernames seriously needs to think about getting a life!
  • If you're going to make up words like "squitting", make sure someone else hasn't used them first. Squitting is an activity often associated with a bad fish curry.

    Then again, given the average Twitterer's output...

  • but Twitter has created a new opportunity for squatters, in the form of Twitter IDs

    You might as well say that every single website that lets users choose their user names, has created a new opportunity for squatters. I think I'll register "CmdrTaco" at a triticale threshing enthusiast discussion forum. By the time Rob gets there, he'll have to pay me big bucks for the name. Or maybe I'll just trade him for the "Sloppy" user he created at the Yeti Photo of the Day website.

    • by Sloppy (14984)
      BTW, when you think of it that way, DNS squatting isn't really different than triticale threshing forum username squatting, except that ICANN's DNS service happens to be very popular. It's all about marketshare, and nothing else.
  • by RomulusNR (29439) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @03:56PM (#25560917) Homepage

    Eventually ICANN will need to solicit proposals for new Twitters with a $185,000 submission fee, to provide more twitname space.

  • I should have figured. I've been following Super Mario's twitter all week and he's done nothing but rave about the PS3.
    At least I still have Coca Cola Classic's twitter to fall back on. That guy drinks so much Pepsi.

  • by Nethead (1563) <joe@nethead.com> on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @04:46PM (#25561615) Homepage Journal

    Any half-geek can get a Amateur Radio call sign that is unique worldwide. It's 4-6 characters long and most nations have a vanity sign program. All you have to do is study a bit and take a test. In the US if you take an advanced test you can get a 4 character sign. No Morse code testing in needed in the US and some other countries. Oh, you also then get the privilege to use bits of the RF spectrum to talk with other geeks. Most US states will give you special vehicle plates at a reduced cost with your call sign on them.

    73 de w7com

  • I hear about new services and usually sign up fairly quickly to make sure that I get my ID. It doesn't matter that much, but it is handy to have the same handle across the Internet.

    I did that with Twitter, signed up, then didn't use the account for a couple of months. Now I use it a couple of times a day. It's handy, but I still can't figure out what their business case is.

    Oh well -- not my problem. ;)

  • I don't know why, but the name "Twitter Squatting" sounds like it describes an action that is illegal 48 states. Maybe there's something better they could call it?

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