‘Cybersquatters’ Wreak Havoc With '16 field

The ever-growing field of 2016 presidential hopefuls is confronting a growing nuisance as candidates look for a smooth launch to their campaigns: “cybersquatters” 

The issue of cybersquatting was cast into the spotlight this week when Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina failed to buy all the websites in her name.

The former head of Hewlett-Packard launched her campaign Monday, but not before a critic snatched up CarlyFiorina.org and used it to claim she laid off 30,000 employees.

Fiorina is far from alone. Cynersquatters have also hit a number of other presidential contenders, including Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

The practice, which has evolved from the art of trolling businesses and celebrities, can be particularly damaging for candidates if a political rival or saboteur gets hold of one of these websites and uses it to smear their name, experts say.

“It’s something they need to think about when they start running for president or senator or governor, because if they don’t do it first, their opponent certainly will,” said Steve McMahon, a Democratic strategist.

Fiorina made a "rookie mistake" that other presidential candidates should learn from, said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist.

“It’s becoming an emerging problem for politicians,” O’Connell said. “You’ve got to be smarter about your online presence.”

Cybersquatters can use the websites to “slime” politicians, he explained.

Read more from Tim Devaney at The Hill

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Analysis & Political Strategy