The 2016 Presidential election season has leveraged technology in new and exciting ways: viewers can live-tweet questions to candidates during debates, local town hall meetings are live-streamed, and constituents can watch dramatic candidate Twitter wars unfold. Unfortunately, this also means that anyone with a few bucks and a sense of humor can do some real digital damage. Of note, an oversight by the campaign of Senator Jeb (!) Bush left the candidate vulnerable to the always well-intentioned Mr. Donald J. Trump.
Believe it or not – when “jebbush.com” is typed into a web browser, users are greeted by Donald Trump’s campaign homepage. Sen. Jeb Bush’s true campaign site is found at “jeb2016.com.” The Trump camp claims that it had nothing to do with the unfortunate redirect, though the Donald himself has also said that President Obama’s birth certificate is false, equated the worth of women to their physical appearance, and argued that a propensity to sweat makes an individual unfit to be Commander in Chief. So pardon us if we have some doubts about Trump’s claim of innocence.
Whodunit mystery aside, it’s shocking that the Bush camp did not register the most logical choice for a campaign URL: the candidate’s name. Jeb (!) is not alone in his neglect of basic internet identity protections.
Check out tedcruz.com:
Most digital marketers know that there are innumerable websites out there that allow you to iterate domain names. Any experts worth their salt take the next step and then purchase any domain that could be associated with a particular cause or candidate. Purchasing a .com is an obvious choice, but it’s also worthwhile to purchase .orgs, .biz, .info, .net, and other top level domains that users might conceivably use when seeking you out. Given the relatively low cost of purchasing domains, this is a small investment that can avoid a huge potential embarrassment down the road.
Other candidates have taken their domain registry more seriously. Sec. Hillary Clinton Presidential camp has registered hillaryclinton.biz to direct users to make a campaign donation. A group called “HRC for President in 2016” nabbed hillary.org to make a case for support. And a common misspelling of Clinton’s name was also claimed, as seen below.
Unfortunately, Sec. Clinton missed at least one key piece of internet real estate: hillaryclinton.net instructs users to “Make America Great Again” via Trump (womp womp).
As the Presidential campaign battlefield becomes more virtual, candidates must diligently protect their digital brand. We’ve seen your fundraising numbers – so we know you can afford it.
Image Credit: Reuters/Dominick Reuter/Brian Snyder/Photo montage by Salon