Eye-Popping Typos

site Web content. Which may not be a bad thing, but what if the person getting the eye-full is a minor? It's happening and may be happening a lot.

The number of sites using deliberately misspelled URL's appears to be growing as site owners attempt to route traffic to their various Web sites. According to researchers at Solid Oak Software, creator of the content filtering software CyberSitter, if you mistype the URL of a high-traffic site you are likely to end up at an Internet adult-site.

URLs such as Compaq and Microsoft when typed incorrectly are likely to lead you to a pornographic Web site. Even misspelled URLs for sites like Beanie Babies, Disney and Sony PlayStation are very likely to lead to an X-Rated site. In fact, mistype the URL of any service provider, Web portal or search engine and the outcome is extremely likely to be the same.

Solid Oak Software president, Brian Milburn, said, "Our researchers have discovered thousands of registered domain names that are extremely similar to those of major companies. We call them 'typo' sites. .... Domain names like microsofy.com, netscapr.com and geocitys.com are easily typed accidentally and will not take you to the desired location. Kids that type in Playstatiom.com will not get the latest news about their Sony product."

Marc Kanter, Solid Oak Software VP, added, "There have been a few of these over the past couple of years, but we have lists of hundreds of them, many from the same site operators."

For example, a visit to www.pepsee.com led us directly, not to Pepsi, but to L.A. Girls and an explicit picture of a female menage a trois.

Kanter suggests, "The best solution for parents and schools is a (content filtering) product like CyberSitter and not legislation. Many of these 'typo' sites are maintained in European or Asian countries and would not be subject to our laws."

Karen Schneider, N.Y. librarian, has her own suggestion, "if you wouldn't leave your child on 42nd Street alone, then don't let them use the Internet alone."