Last month, a fake news report about Twitter appeared on a newly created website found on Bloomberg.Market. The website, created on a new gTLD domain name, had a design that apparently looked like the genuine Bloomberg website. The resulting confusion briefly caused a jump in the price of Twitter stock.
Shortly after this made the news, some people were quick to blame the new gTLD program. Yes, Bloomberg.Market was created using one of the new gTLD domain names, but no, I don’t think this is endemic to new gTLD domain names. I think this can be done on any domain name.
I just read an article on Boston.com about how The Harvard Lampoon pulled a prank on The Harvard Crimson using a .CO domain name. According to the article, “The photo, in which Trump is all smiles and thumbs up as he poses with some Ivy League students, was published to thecrimson.co, rather than the actual paper’s website, thecrimson.com, last Wednesday.” Just like the Bloomberg.Market situation, the .CO website “has the same layout and design as The Crimson’s website, and even links back to the different sections of the real Crimson.”
It’s not just new gTLD domain names or even ccTLD domain names that can be used for confusing pranks. As it stands right now, TheCrimson.org is available to register. Someone could have just as easily used that domain name. There are also plenty of HarvardCrimson, Harvard-Crimson, and TheHarvardCrimson domain name extensions available to register.
I guess the point I am trying to make and have said in the past, there are plenty of ways people can use all kinds of domain names for pranks, phishing, and for nefarious reasons. When something like Bloomberg.Market or TheHarvardCrimson.CO happens again, the news shouldn’t necessarily focus on the domain extension because this has been happening for a long time.