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Cybersquatting on the Social Hypertext

A friend of mine working for a trends prediction company emailed me the following link which discusses the problem of cybersquatting; which has so far only been a large problem on older technologies such as, say, domain names. Now that websites that create a social hypertext, i.e. ones which have a large community of users, linked together by content they have made themselves, there has been the problem of people squatting usernames. Here’s my reply:

Thanks 😀 this is really interesting. I think there’s always gonna be people trying to make money for themselves by signing up to ultra-popular websites with usernames as big brands, but I have yet to be convinced that this is a major problem for the consumers themselves. Of course, Sony maybe would be pissed off if someone signed up on Flickr.com with the username Sony and posted semi-nude erotic photos themselves. Maybe the person’s name is Sony and they’re an erotic photographer. Who owns the right then?

The term "social hypertext" has been used before to describe the way that peoples’ social information are being stored and explored on the internet, much like the way that web pages are linked. These networks are starting to afford explorations within these pools of information; for example, a person may be curious to find out what a friend of a friend is interested in, just because of the social link. I think the act of exploring the social hypertext ("social navigation") is going to be an important way of spreading brand awareness, if it’s not already. Taking a simple look at MySpace.com you discover brand names plastered on peoples’ profiles. Facebook.com has developed a trend where people create societies called " The xxx Appreciation Society", sometimes gathering thousands of users. Who knows what kind of power these groups serve for brands? For example, if your friend’s friend is a big fan of a particular club, e.g. "Risa", would that sway your decision on where to go out the following week? Just out of curiousity, I searched on the groups page on Facebook.com for "Risa". It came up with "Risa Appreciation Society", with 208 members. With the whole "friend of a friend of a friend" business, who knows how many people this would reach out to?

My point is that yes there are problems with Cybersquatting. But this is nothing compared to the new aspects of social advertising that have been created since the new wave of social networking websites. The internet is an open place. People are taking advantage of that and the implications aren’t all bad.

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