Do You Own Your Social Media Identity?

According to the Wall Street Journal Twitter is now mainstream. Whether or not you buy that, it can mean only one thing: the cybersquatters are about to move in en masse. So the question is, who owns your Twitter name?

I finally jumped on the bandwagon and got mine (@catone) sometime last March. SitePoint wasn’t quite so lucky. When we went to register our official Twitter account, we were unfortunately too late to get the obvious choice: someone else already had it. (We can be found on Twitter at @sitepointdotcom and would love for you to follow us!)

According to Richard Steinnon at Network World, the practice of “Twitter squatting” is becoming more common. Check out the names for Crisco, Coke, Pepsi, Nike, and Chevrolet, for example. All registered trademarks, all taken, and very likely not taken by the trademark owner.

Perhaps the most cheeky example of Twitter squatting, is the @glennbeck account, which has a single tweet that appears to be fishing for money for the account. Clearly, the account isn’t being controlled by television and radio personality Glenn Beck, but rather by an opportunistic squatter attempting to make a quick buck.

Hiya. Please contact me if you’d like this Twitter account. glennbecktwitter@gmail.com

To be fair to the person who has the SitePoint name we initially went after, it’s not a pure case of squatting — he actually owns a trademark on the name SitePoint in Switzerland. For that reason, Twitter couldn’t help us — even though SitePoint Pty. Ltd. owns the US trademark to the name SitePoint.

The takeaway is clear here, though:

You should immediately register your company name on every social media service you can think of.

Twitter, Digg, MySpace, Facebook, YouTube — these are the new frontier of cybersquatting. “How to protect your own brand? Immediately [...] determine if your name is available. Get it while you can,” writes Steinnon. “While you are at it, reserve all of the names associated with your brand. You may decide that any domain you have invested in should have its [own social media] ID. It is the domain name squatters who will jump on this new land grab first after all.”

Is your brand protected?

Remember to follow SitePoint on Twitter at on Twitter at @sitepointdotcom.

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  • Dougal Matthews

    And here is a handy (ish) tool to help you do it…
    http://www.usernamecheck.com/

  • ryguy4025

    Hey Josh great article! I was wondering if you think that social media will eventually be the do all end all of online marketing. I noticed one auction in the marketplace this week that puts your story on the front page of Digg for $$$. As social media becomes the new frontier for online marketing, do you see companies attempting to create advertising avenues on these sites (twitter, digg, etc.)?