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Twitter.org Being Used For Scams, Twitter Seeks To Gain Control Of Rogue Domain
Too bad Twitter didn’t originally register “Twitter.org” as well. It would have saved the company from the headache of trying to gain control of the domain, which is now being used to conduct scam surveys of people who unwittingly arrive thinking they’re at Twitter.com.
The Twitter.org site is set up to intentionally create confusion and make it appear that the actual Twitter is conducting a survey and giving away prizes. The look and feel of the landing page replicates Twitter’s earlier design and branding. Fusible.com first reported this story.
Twitter has filed a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organization to wrest control of Twitter.org. As a condition of registering any domain owners must submit to the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (URDP), which allows for binding arbitration.
Here’s what people see if they type Twitter.org into the browser URL bar:
The domain redirects to a number of different URLs, such as http://quizzerist.net and http://chosurvey.net, which are privately registered. Users who realize they’ve made a mistake and try to leave are redirected to zbiddy, a penny auction site which is also alleged to be a scam or fraudulent site.
Clicking on any of the prize or incentive links in the survey solicitation leads to pages like this:
Trademark owners can file a complaint with WIPO under the URDP and “defendants” must submit to the proceedings and respond or risk default. Here’s how the procedure works:
In the event that a trademark holder considers that a domain name registration infringes on its trademark, it may initiate a proceeding under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP). Under the standard dispute clause of the Terms and Conditions for the registration of a gTLD domain name, the registrant must submit to such proceedings.
The UDRP permits complainants to file a case with a resolution service provider, specifying, mainly, the domain name in question, the respondent or holder of the domain name, the registrar with whom the domain name was registered and the grounds for the complaint. Such grounds include, as their central criteria, the way in which the domain name is identical or similar to a trademark to which the complainant has rights; why the respondent should be considered as having no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name that is the subject of the complaint; and why the domain name should be considered as having been registered and used in bad faith.
The respondent is offered the opportunity to defend itself against the allegations. The provider (e.g., the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center) appoints a panelist who decides whether or not the domain(s) should be transferred.
There’s almost zero chance that Twitter won’t succeed in taking control of Twitter.org. It’s quite possible the domain registrant of Twitter.org won’t even respond given that there may be consumer fraud involved and to come forward might mean to risk investigation and potential criminal prosecution.
Accordingly it’s only a matter of time before Twitter gains control of the rogue domain.