Taylor Swift: The Porn Industry’s New Darling

Okay, Taylor Swift is not in the porn industry, but I got your attention. While she is not having sex on film, Taylor Swift, along with other entities such as Harvard, is buying up domain names to ensure she is not a casualty to the new surge of web page names, set to become available later this year. Last year, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) opened up the Web domain space to a potentially infinite number of new names. Before this change, there were traditionally 22 wed/domain names, ending with “.com”, “.org”, “.gov”, etc. Now, there are infinite domain names, including “.porn”, “.stupid”, etc.

After the original excitement over the matter, companies and entities began to nervously buy out any potentially confusing domain names. Aside from entities having to make sure false information and ideas are being spread about them via these domains, there is also the threat of a lack of compatibility of these domains with many search engines. Brent London, a google worker specializing in these domains asserts, “New types of domains and email addresses break stuff.  Just to send an email from one person to another, you’d find yourself in a situation where an operating system, mail servers, routers, mail service providers, security software, all need to work properly.” The issue at hand is that these .domains will continue to expand until anyone can name any website anything. Tech companies are pretty up to date on how to keep up with customer demands, but something like this could change the internet forever. Search engines could be compromised, unless places like Google, Yahoo! and Bing! start to more thoroughly process and sort information as to only show the websites that one would legitimately be searching for, not the worthless sites like “shawnmcniff.shawn”(not an actual website, unfortunately). Beyond commonly known english words, these website names range far past the english language. Adding complicated language and wording like chinese symbols would completely heighten the level of difficulty of processing these websites. Unfortunately, that is exactly what is forecasted to happen.

So where does this leave us? Will Facebook be pushed out by an abundance of personal websites? Most importantly, will this prove the bubble properties of the internet? This could completely be the downfall of the internet, whirling it into a black hole of information where nothing is ever truly sorted. Who knows what will happen, but if Kim Kardashian could #breaktheinternet, I believe this could too.

13 comments

  1. Well, your title definitely shocked me! Anyways, I think the article is interesting and I feel like this does leave a world of new possibilities for both individuals and businesses. That being said, I don’t think that the existing Social Media giants such as Twitter and Facebook will really take a big hit from this new expansion. I believe that they, along with other forms of SM, offer a standard platform that makes it very easy for users to create their own online personal profiles. Although creating one’s own website would make it more personable for them, it would also be much more difficult to create – a switching cost that I think most users would not be willing to put up with. I’m interested in seeing what more will come of this.

  2. Eye catching title. The danger of personalized domain names is here but I think personal domain names are more positive than malicious. Many gamers create their own domain names to utilize certain chat services such as TeamSpeak. On a personal level I’ve known web developers who were hired simply for having the personal domain names and emails with their domain names. The self promotion through custom domain names is definitely more niche than threatening to existing forms of SM.

  3. Taylor Swift has a very intelligent team of business advisers who seem to always be two steps ahead of everyone else. No wonder why they are buying up all the domains that she may be associated with. I was a little confused as to how the expansion of domain names could break the internet though. Would the simplicity of googling something disappear because their search engines can no longer handle the complexity of web addresses? There could be legitimate websites that use a custom domain, and I think that companies like Google, Yahoo, and Bing already do a fairly good job is blacklisting the malicious sites.

  4. I saw the headlines that Taylor had purchased some type of website involving porn, and I am glad to find out it was only to protect herself. Honestly this was a smart move on her part because she is now in control of domains that could potentially negatively affect her image if the domain was in the hands of someone who wanted to be malicious. Not only does this raise concerns about the organization of the internet and search engines but this also raises concerns about cyberbullying. If anyone can make any website name then there is a potential for malicious websites dedicated to hurt someone else. There would hopefully be some type of monitoring system to protect children but there are already so many issues with cyberbullying on the internet that this could continue to make cyberbullying unstoppable.

  5. Interesting topic. I’ve worked with our social team in the past to lock any potential twitter accounts that may be unsavory but this brings it to a whole new level. However, I’m not convinced this will break the internet. Google and yahoo have advanced algorithms and are constantly optimizing to ensure that you find exactly what you are looking for. Furthermore, companies pay for search optimization and submit a list of keywords that when typed into the search bar, result in their links being prioritized. Unless these other sites start throwing down cash I doubt we’ll see them on the first page of our search results.

  6. Great post. I wonder what drove ICANN to open up domain syntax in such a profound way. Maybe it’s intention was to create a larger revenue stream through raising the supply of domain names closer to the demand. Based on the quotations you cited and your own thoughts, I agree that they should proceed with caution as a broken internet would be rather unfortunate.

  7. Alyssa Frey · ·

    This made me think of something I saw on social earlier this week. http://www.tedcruz.com/ is not the presidential candidate’s real website, and shows what happens when you DON’T buy your domain name. Taylor’s always three steps ahead of everyone else, but I am surprised that ICANN is opening up domain names “exclusivity” of sorts. It will be interesting to watch what sorts of websites spring out of this.

  8. Shawn, really interesting post. I saw this online earlier and was curious as to what Taylor was getting involved with – knew it couldn’t be what the headlines were trying to infer. Besides the super interesting point that these sites can break the web since everything has to work together, I think that this was a smart business move in terms of her image (as I spoke to last week in my presentation). She and her business team realized the risk with her name on a porn site and got involved. Could you imagine if her brand got ruined with a site like this. She is now able to not worry about this tech-related threat to her brand and continue to grow her “personal company” in the traditional ways. This was great way to prevent harm to her business.

  9. Shawn great post on a topic that I saw on another website that I thought was a joke. I do not really understand the entire idea of buying domain names, however. As you mentioned in the post, there are not almost infinite amounts of domain names that one could have. How could Taylor Swift possibly buy all of the available domain names that someone could potentially create? I just do not see how her buying a couple of sites using her name were even worth it.

  10. That is interesting! This development will make it even harder for companies (and people like Taylor Swift) to overlook the information circulating about them on the internet. And it offers new possibilities for people who want to do them harm. This makes a thought come to my mind that I already had several times: Maybe there has to be some kind of “internet police”, whose task it is to filter really inappropriate and harmful sites. Of course, this will never be possible. Firms, PR agencies and the like will keep spending a lot of money on searching the web. But also for private individuals “self-Googling” will become more interesting (if you want to put it positively) in the future.

  11. wallacekwan99 · ·

    Interesting topic, and kudos to the Swift Team in launching a pre-emptive strike against the Cyber Squatters, porn peddlers, and potential technical difficulties that may arise from this expansion of the Internet. Though it was probably very costly, I’m sure the Swift Team saw it as a worthwhile investment to ensure that her wholesome image and brand does not get tarnished by the new domain names. I doubt this expansion of the Internet will cause any of the maladies you mentioned. I see this thing coming and going like the Y2K “bug”

  12. tcbcmba2015 · ·

    Thought this was a great post Shawn! The thing I latch on to here is one of the last things you wrote – could this be a threat to Facebook? Perhaps someday we will move to a place where we all own our individual social media site pages – sort of like a street address. That would remove the need for competing platforms and make us all accessible to everyone. Although the thing that makes Facebook so valuable is the aggregation ability. Your network has a common place to see your posts quickly and check in on you. Plus, you can already find someone’s social page by Googling their name.

  13. Nice post, Shawn. Like many others I had seen this headline elsewhere and was curious about what was going on. Rachel and Chris bring up valid points that with SEO and such advanced algorithms it would be tough to displace those who were paying for those keywords as the top native search result. It’s interesting to think about the potential implications on other social media websites, however, as Todd had brought up in his comment above.

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