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Smiles in domain names

Blog, March 12, 2015

Do you know that smiles are allowed in some domain zones? There is the whole graphic language that consists only of ideograms and Emoji smiles and is used on websites, social networks or smartphone messengers. Some of Emoji symbols were even included in Unicode, while Japan started to manufacture keyboards with smiles.

The first time we heard about domain names with smiles was from Coca-Cola advertising campaign in Puerto Rico. Сoca-Сola registered several domains with Emoji .WS in domain zone, which means «We smile».

The technical aspects of implementation of domain names with smiles is similar to IDN, i.e. names in Cyrillic, Arabic, and other types of writing that differ from Latin. A combination of Punycode characters allowed for domain names corresponds to a Unicode symbol. For example, one of Coca-Cola smiling domains in Punycode looks like this: xn--h28h.ws.

For safety reasons, ICANN banned Emoji in public domains (.com, .net and etc.), because due to similarity of appearance they can be used for Phishing. Although, it is very unlikely that fraudsters would go as far as that. Simple and time-tested swaps such as I (i) and l (L) are much more popular. ICANN does not have a right to set the rules in national domain zones which means that the domain administrator .WS can offer smile domains.

But, according to ICANN spokesmen, such domains are not supported by current versions of IDN protocol, through which the system of non-Latin domains is carried out. That’s why smiling domains may not work properly. Besides, ICANN reported that Emoji symbols can not be registered for top-level domains within the framework of New gTLD.

Emoji fortune cookie