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Social Media Squatting

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Contributor:
David Silversmith
David Silversmith

One of the most successful money makers on the Internet has been the selling of domain names. Domain names have been sold for millions of dollars with such examples as sex.com for $12m USD, business.com $7.5m USD, diamond.com $7.5m USD and even vodka.com for a cool $3m USD. 

An entire world of business, known as "domain squatting," is based solely around the buying and selling of domain names.  Though as sites like igoldrush.com note, "if you're researching domain names with the intent of making a quick profit then you are frankly coming very, very late to the domain name party."  However, with the rise of social media and the sale of the CNNbrk Twitter account to CNN it looks like a new Internet gold rush could be starting up!

Technically, the CNNbrk Twitter account was not sold to CNN, because selling a Twitter name is actually a violation of the Twitter terms and conditions. CNN avoided that issue by hiring the person who owned the Twitter account to a consulting contract agreement which included the transfer of the account as part of its conditions.  With that neat little workaround in place “Twitter Squatting” is becoming the next popular phenomenon. People are taking up brand names, company names and famous individuals’ names as user names in the hopes of cashing in big one day, like many who bought popular domain names have in the past.

Tweexchange looks like the first business to enter the fray with hopes on capitalizing on this by providing a marketplace for Twitter names.  Tweexchange allows members to exchange, buy or find Twitter usernames from other existing members.  On feature can help any potential Twitter user in that it lets you easily find what Twitter handles have been taken and recommends alternate usernames for your desired Twitter handle.

The big question is whether name squatting will extend to the multitude of other social media sites.  However, even if you are not interested in making money, you might want the ability toget a consistent name on several social media sites. So how do you know if your username is available on most social sites? You could try each site individually, or you could check 111 of them all at the same site with Namechk.  Actually, in the time between my first use of Namechk and the time of this article, they have moved from analyzing 76 sites to 111 and I imagine more will follow.

All of the social media sites are seeing an uptick in registrations for accounts with low usage - a sure sign that squatting is picking up. So whether you are looking to become rich or just own your cool social media name - now is the time to act. 

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