Social Enterprise

Is facesquatting becoming a problem?

Could name squatting on Facebook applications become a new litigious area for the Web?

Could name squatting on Facebook applications become a new litigious area for the Web?

Lately I've been involved in the world of developing Facebook applications in the current gold rush or downhill derby in social media Web development. Popularity is the aim, annoyance is largely the game. If you're a Facebook user then you're probably getting a flood of invites to use these new applications.

For those who aren't aware, or apathetic of the whole social networking scene, Facebook has launched a platform, funnily enough called Platform, to allow Web developers to create integrated applications. If you haven't seen what it's all about then you should check it out before your boss asks you about it.

With the popularity of Facebook and increased use of applications the darker side of the Web has appeared — the cybersquatter, or as I'll call them "face squatters".

The discussion has emerged on the Facebook developer channel — who owns a name of an application on Facebook?

While not everyone is concerned, as the app name and URL isn't always a deal breaker to being a good application, some developers are worried about facesquatters taking the most search engine friendly names, and some are actively face squatting URL's and names like 'clinton 2008' whom a Hillary Clinton supporter wanted to protect from jokers.

Developers aside, there are litigious lawyers who could well be concerned with the use of these names, trademarks and subsequent Facebook URLs on such a popular site. Say, for example, Burger King registering the name McDonalds, and so on.

Unlike the Internet domain name squatting, facesquatting will presumably be easier to resolve between conflicting parties. As applications run on the Facebook platform and under its sub-domain name, it's fair to say Facebook themselves must become responsible to keep things fair. Hence, this could make the policing of trademarks and infringements much more strict than the current laissez-faire rules of domain names.

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