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Why Facebook bought facebok.com

For once the social media giant is looking out for us

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Facebook has introduced a number of features over the years that have revolutionised our use of the platform. Facial recognition that suggests friends we might want to tag in a photo, memories that resurface like time capsules reminding us of posts from yesteryear, even the ability to nominate a friend or loved one to become curator of your profile after you die. (Seriously, Google that one.)

These are impressive features, but they pale in comparison to Facebook’s greatest achievement: purchasing the domain name facebok.com.

Yes, Facebook is the proud owner of a litany of misspelt URLs that all redirect to the Facebook login page. They’ve done this for a few reasons. Firstly, it allows sausage-fingered individuals such as myself to access Facebook even after I brutalise its spelling in the search bar; but perhaps more importantly, it stems the tide of something called typosquatting.

Typosquatting is when a more criminally-inclined member of society registers a common typo of real website as their own domain name in the hope that someone will accidentally type in that misspelling (see: my sausage fingers) and expose themselves to malware. Many corporations will try and preempt these squatters by purchasing these domains themselves, hence facebok.com.

Honi reached out to Facebook to ask just how many variations of their name they have registered. Facebook did not respond. However, through extensive trial and error, Honi can reveal a number of domain names that Facebook has purchased. In line with facebok.com, every permutation where a single letter is missing (e.g. fcebook, faceboo) has been registered, as well as most variations with the final letter changed (e.g. faceboob). Most of the domain names are based on a pattern, but there are some outliers like faceboook.com and fb.com.

There is no public list of which domain names redirect to the Facebook login, there was no press release or cute video with popping Wow reacts and floating balloons. Facebook is content for their users to stumble across this feature as necessary. They didn’t create facebok.com for the glory, this one’s for us.