Get ready for the Great Facebook Land Grab of 2009!
No need to worry about dysentery or loading up your covered wagon, just log on Facebook.com/username after midnight tonight. It’ll be your first chance to register a vanity URL for your Facebook profile, but it will only be granted on a first come, first serve basis and cannot be adjusted later.
Rather than passing around a link like this http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/profile.php?id=850215&ref=name, you’ll now be able to use facebook.com/john.smith (like MySpace and Twitter have had for years).
The reason for the land grab anticipation stems from the fact that only one of the planet’s many John Smiths will be the owner of the coveted URL when the dust settles. Fortunately, just like signing up for the world’s most popular social networking service itself, this whole process is free.
1. Can I make a buck off this?
If your eyes are lighting up about the potential for user name squatting, you better not quit your day job just yet. Facebook is only allowing one newly registered user name per account and is also banning recently created accounts (those created after May 15) from registering custom URLs.
2. So, how is this good for me?
Think better networking opportunities, especially for job hunters.
Although Facebook has the functionality to allow users search by first and last name already within the site, these custom user names should greatly expand the potential for Facebook profiles to be included in relevant Google searches (Stock Quote: GOOG). Additionally, your potential for networking in real world situations will be enhanced when you casually tell a potential business contact or employer to find you at Facebook.com/JohnSmith or Facebook.com/TheBestSalesmanInBoston.
Brands will also be scrambling to lock in their fan pages with the new custom URLs, but they’ll at least have some copyright protection resources on their side. (That means even if you register Facebook.com/BankOfAmerica, Bank of America (Stock Quote: BAC) can win the URL back in court.)
3. How is this URL land grab bad?
The flip side of the increased networking potential is that you’ll be easier to locate by those you may be looking to avoid. Maybe you’d prefer your family, employers and easily offended grandmothers not be able to find your party pictures or relationship status in less than two clicks of a Google search. Maybe you're on the run from the law or a particularly persistent former love interest.
However, Facebook has a considerable number of adjustable privacy settings available that should allow you to manage which information is displayed to which people.