Something to be wary of when you’re domain shopping for that perfect .com: bots are watching.
I’m not sure what combination triggers it, but when I was done brainstorming for an app name, I checked Twitter to see if the handle was taken, then registered the domain name. It was quite late and I didn’t want to start fiddling around with email aliases to get the Twitter account, so I decided to leave it since the application is only in early planning and layout stages.
A couple of days later, I decided to grab the account to start playing around with the Twitter API – couldn’t believe it when I discovered the account had been nabbed. No updates, no avatar – just a squatter. It seems obvious in retrospect that someone would be scraping domain registrations and comparing against Twitter handles (there was nothing but the .com taken and I’d never mentioned it anywhere), but it is immensely frustrating. The app is a Twitter-based tool, so having a .com and matching account name is essential.
What’s even more frustrating is that this seems to fall within Twitter’s acceptable usage policy. They have a section on namesquatting, but it states:
“Please note that if an account has had no updates, no profile image, and there is no intent to mislead, it typically means there’s no name-squatting or impersonation.”
You’d be hard-pressed to claim that there is an “intent to mislead” when you’re starting to build something – after all, the fact that you’re only starting to build it means there’s not much to mislead. So I’m back to the drawing board on figuring out a name while I put the app together.
The lesson here, a rather obvious one I suppose, is that Twitter handles are as valuable as the domain for certain classes of applications. If you’re building something that will interface with Twitter, you have to get the Twitter handle at the same time as the domain, or it’ll be swept out from under you.
As per Andrew’s comment below, I’ve submitted an impersonation report – hopefully something will come of it.
Well, it looks like this might be going places, the account in question is now showing as “suspended” – no word from support yet (it’s a weekend, I wasn’t expecting anything until at least Monday) but it’s encouraging!
So, received some communication from Twitter today; they will not release the account name to me. This is disappointing, but I will move on.