Twitter wants to get its hands on some new gTLDs but doesn’t want to wait.
Having missed the first round of new gTLD applications back in 2012, the company is now keen on getting .twitter and other strings both branded and generic.
“We’re interest in round two,” Twitter trademark counsel Stephen Coates said as ICANN’s business constituencies met the board of directors today.
“We have several interesting opportunities to develop around that space,” he said. “We are interested in both brands and generics.”
The problem for Twitter, and every other would-be gTLD applicant, is that ICANN isn’t even talking in broad terms about when the next round will be.
The absolute minimum that must happen is that ICANN must complete a review of round one, focusing on “Competition, Consumer Trust and Consumer Choice”. This CCT review is mandated by ICANN’s Affirmation of Commitments with the US government.
Almost three years after the first round opened, the volunteer team that will carry out the CCT review has not even been assembled yet.
There are a number of other factors that may or may not wind up on the critical path — such as reviews of rights protection mechanisms and security and stability at the DNS root.
Coates said he would like a “bifurcated” review process leading to two separate second application rounds.
“I would advocate for bifurcating the review process, which I think is very important, especially around RPMs,” he said. “But also bifurcating the round process, treating dot-brands differently than generic names.”
I think this outcome is unlikely.
Application rules that give preference to one type of application over another invite exploitation. It happened in the 2003 sponsored TLD round and it’s happening with “community” and “Specification 13” applications in the current round too.
Could the fake Bloomberg story about Twitter being acquired act as an impetus for the company to activate its mostly dormant dot-brand gTLD?
Twitter shares yesterday reportedly spiked as much as 8% on the “news” that it was the target of a $31 buyout bid.
The story was published on bloomberg.market, a cybersquatted domain hosting a mirror of the real Bloomberg web site.
While it was reportedly quite sloppily written, it nevertheless managed to convince at least one US cable news network to run with it, one reporter even tweeting the bogus link to his followers.
The story was quickly outed as a fake and within a few hours Rightside, the .market registry as well as owner of its registrar, eNom, suspended the domain for breaching its terms of service.
Rightside wrote in a blog post:
it pains us so greatly that, in the early stages when so many people are forming their first impressions of the new TLD program, these numerous positive examples are sometimes overshadowed by the malicious practices and behaviors of a very small group of people.
Bloomberg’s not at fault here, of course. No company should be expected to defensively register its trademark in every one of the 1,000+ TLDs out there right now.
But could the hoax persuade it to do something of substance with its .bloomberg gTLD, perhaps taking a leaf out of the BNP Paribas playbook?
Bloomberg has been populating its dot-brand with hundreds of domains since May — both the names of its products and keywords related to industries it’s known for covering — but currently they all seem to redirect to existing web sites in .com or .net.
It’s long been suggested by proponents of new gTLDs that dot-brands can act as a signal of legitimacy on the web, and that’s the attitude banks such as Barclays and BNP Paribas seem to be taking right now.
Could .bloomberg be next?
The Turkish government has reportedly blocked access to Google’s public DNS service from with its borders, as part of its recently instituted censorship of Twitter.
According to local reports, the IP addresses 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168 — Google’s public DNS servers — were banned after they became widely used to circumnavigate blocks on Twitter’s domain names.
Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week vowed to “wipe out” Twitter, after the company refused to take down tweets criticizing his government over corruption allegations ahead of an election next week.
Twitter is encouraging Turkish users to use SMS to send tweets instead. Many Turks are also turning to VPNs to evade this bizarre piece of Draconian censorship.
Twitter has started recognizing new gTLDs on its web page and on Tweetdeck.
As of some point in the last 48 hours, you can type something like “nic.berlin” or “fire.plumbing” in a tweet and Twitter will automatically turn it into a clickable link.
The switcheroo seems to have happened in the last two days, as this conversation may illustrate.
But there seems to be some delay — about a month, by my reckoning — in the support.
Domains such as nic.sexy, which is in a TLD delegated November 14, become clickable, but domains in more recent delegations such as .okinawa, which hit the root on Wednesday, are not.
Going back through the DI PRO Calendar, it seems that any TLD delegated on February 5 or earlier gets clickable links in Twitter and those delegated over the last four weeks do not.
I’m not sure why TLDs delegated in the last month are not supported, but I imagine it could be an annoyance during registries’ pre-launch marketing.
It’s difficult to overestimate how important application support is for the new gTLD program.
If new gTLDs don’t look like web addresses, there’s going to be a big barrier to adoption. A .link domain that isn’t clickable isn’t much use and nobody wants to have to copy-paste URLs.
Support for new gTLDs for Twitter’s 232 million active users is a big step along the road to universal acceptance of all TLDs, which ICANN has identified as a problem.
Twitter has filed a cybersquatting complaint over the domain name twitter.org, which is currently being used for one of those bogus survey scam sites.
The domain has been registered since October 2005 — six months before Twitter was created — but appears to have changed hands a number of times since then.
It’s been under Whois privacy since mid-2011, but the last available unprotected record shows the domain registered to what appears to be Panama-based law firm.
Hiding ownership via offshore shell companies is a common tactic for people cybersquatting high-profile brands.
The UDRP complaint, which looks like a slam-dunk to me, has been filed with WIPO.