XXX Domain for Porn is Live and Colleges Are Not Prepared

dot xxx buttonToday the new XXX domain went live with over 100,000 porn sites and it is clear numerous colleges were not prepared. This lack of preparedness now exposes many colleges to unnecessary reputation risk of being associated with a porn site and the high costs of buying the XXX domain they could have got for a fraction of the cost as recently as Monday.

And if you think this problem is limited to colleges think again. The number of state and local governments, agencies, and high schools that have this problem is staggering. But the problem is not limited to governments and education. Companies of all sizes and every industry will also find themselves in the same situation and will find this post just as useful as any college.

The XXX Domain

Not long ago ICANN approved several top level domains along with other changes which were covered in earlier posts (link). Among the changes was the creation of the XXX domain. The creation of the XXX domain was intended to improve safety and create better control over adult content and porn site access by minors.

As part of the decision to add the additional top level domains, there were provisions to help organizations protect their brands and existing domain names under the additional top level domains like the XXX domain to avoid previous problems with Internet squatting on domain names.

Reputation Risk

Whether the CIO or the CMO is the custodian of domain names for their institution, someone should have made a point to go to GoDaddy and spend the $99 to register the XXX domain for their school a long time ago. This should have been a no-brainer just as they had done for the .org .net .mobi and other top level domains for the school name, alumni association, foundations, team mascot, and other domain names held by the institution.

So for probably not more than ten minutes of time and $1000 each college could have prevented some yahoo from running a porn site under www.<mycollege>.XXX. Instead, many colleges will now run the risk of a disgruntled employee running setting up a porn site using the college’s name or even simply an enterprising student running a porn site using a college related name. Either way it is not good.

XXX Domain Squatters

If you forgot to register your college’s XXX domain it is not too late to take of it even now. But you may find someone has already registered the domain for your organization, football team mascot, or one of your brands. If that is the case you may just have to bite the bullet and accept your fate with how it gets used. Alternatively, you can track down the domain owner and buy it from them. This can be a complicated process but you may deem it to be essential and the price well worth your reputation.

Google AdWords

One of the more interesting things I discovered in preparing this post related to the use of AdWords in a XXX domain world. What I noticed is that several colleges that use AdWords for search engine marketing (SEM) have their ads showing up today for XXX specific searches. These AdWords ads are showing in both AdWords sections of the search engine results pages (SERP).

This means the college’s marketing department has taken no steps to modify AdWords for the new XXX domain and may not have any general exclusions simply for adult content searches. This means the college’s ads can appear as though the college is targeting people searching for adult content. It also suggests these schools may even have their AdWords campaigns showing as placement ads on adult content sites that use Adsense.

It is possible there is a glitch in Google for certain search terms or when using the advanced search features or the advanced operators. But it seems to be more like an issue with how these colleges are using AdWords. Either way, every school should verify their AdWords setup or suspend all campaigns until they know what is going on.

Adult Content Filters

Finally, anyone running any type of web traffic monitoring for adult content filtering or blocking should also take a minute and review your policy. Then verify your policy settings are working as designed for adult content relative to the the XXX domain. If you are running any kind of software based tool it may take a few days for your provider to get their updates out and refine their classification and rating models.

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3 Responses to XXX Domain for Porn is Live and Colleges Are Not Prepared

  1. A college webmaster says:

    So for probably not more than ten minutes of time and $1000 each college could have prevented some yahoo from running a porn site under http://www..XXX. Instead, many colleges will now run the risk of a disgruntled employee running setting up a porn site using the college’s name or even simply an enterprising student running a porn site using a college related name.

    So higher ed should collectively just give away $5,000,000 per year to ICANN in order to “protect” our names from this stupid TLD? After 10 years of this extortion that’s a lot of scholarships that could have been awarded.

    • The Higher Ed CIO says:

      What’s done is done. There is a XXX TLD. You may not like it. You may not agree with how it is administered. But college CIO’s and CMO’s need to be professional and set aside their feelings on this and consider the institution’s interest now that it is upon us. If you have been following this process, Trademark holders had preemptive rights over their names during the Sunrise period which even had an extension. Now the Sunrise is closed, and the Landrush period is over, and we are now in a first come model. Because so few schools take the time to obtain Trademarks to protect their brands they have to register the domain.

      The point of my post is that given the rules for assigning XXX domains I am still shocked at how few institutions cared enough to safeguard their image. Consider that if you have already gone so far as to cover .net .org .mobi and many have also registered foreign domains because of their international ambitions, what was the big deal about one more. The registration fee is a drop in the bucket for every college marketing budget since it doesn’t cost as much as a departmental pizza party. For those operating big time athletics programs they can certainly afford to cover their team names.

  2. Pingback: Brand Protection: Lessons from the XXX Domain and Trademarks

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