In April, I wrote about a clever feature that Google added to its accounts: users could create a public “profile” with a vanity URL that was simple and easy to remember: google.com/profiles/your-name-here. As of yesterday evening, Facebook now plans to do the same thing, joining MySpace and Twitter, which offer a similar feature.
Log into your Facebook account, and you’ll find an announcement that “Facebook Usernames” are coming soon. Instead of a string of numbers, your Facebook account’s URL will now be customizable with your name, just like a Google Profile. You’ll be able to choose your username starting June 13. There’s even a little countdown clock, if you’re that excited.
Facebook claims in its blog that it has taken precautions against name-squatting by disallowing anyone with a profile created after May 31 to create a username. But that doesn’t mean name-squatting won’t be perpetrated by disingenuous current users, and since Facebook explicitly states that these things are permanent and non-transferable, well, you’re in for a hell of a hard road if someone takes your name, or your company’s name.
The feature will also make Facebook more akin to its rival, MySpace, which has attracted more artists and musicians with its approach to self-branding. For most of us, that seems like a sensible business move. But for Facebook lovers, that may constitute treason (check out the comments below the announcement.) Whatever the outcome, plant a flag in your brain for June 13 at midnight, and make sure that you and your company sign up for what’s yours.