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New on Facebook: Usernames for Custom URLs

Lori Halley 10 June 2009 7 comments

Facebook has just announced that it will be offering custom usernames (“vanity URLs”) for Facebook Profiles and Pages, starting at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Saturday, June 13, 2009. 

Custom usernames are a big deal for many Facebook members, who have long been frustrated by hard-to-remember Page and Profile addresses made up of random strings of numbers. Directing people to your Facebook page can be as easy as telling them your username.

For organizations who want to publicize their Facebook presence in a radio PSA, television ad, or printed brochure — by any publicity method that requires people to type in the URL, instead of simply clicking a link — the advantages of username-based URLs will be immediately obvious.  And having your organization’s name as a prominent part of your Page address should also help with the search engines.

Each Facebook user can claim one custom username for his/her personal Profile, and administrators of Facebook Fan Pages can claim one username for each Page they own — with certain restrictions

Most of the rules and restrictions around Facebook usernames are aimed at preventing the kind of unethical “squatting” that has happened with domain name registrations from time to time.

To qualify for a username, your Facebook Page must have been live on Facebook with a minimum 1,000 fans as of May 31, 2009.

For personal Profiles, only those who created accounts before 3 p.m. on June 9, 2009, will be eligible for a username.

New users will have to wait until after 12:01 a.m. (EDT) on Sunday, June 28, 2009.

This decision was made to prevent people from creating new accounts just to take advantage of reserving a username. We’ve also reserved certain names that have been brought to our attention in an effort to help third parties protect their intellectual property and other rights.

...Facebook reserves the right to remove and/or reclaim any username at any time for any reason.

Facebook provides a form you can fill out to reserve your trademark, even if you don't plan on using it for a username yourself, to ensure that no one else can claim your trademark as their username. They have also set up a complaints process to follow if someone else has claimed a username that you believe infringes on your legal rights.

When choosing your Facebook username, here are a couple of points to keep in mind:

Usernames must be at least 5 characters long, and can only contain alphanumeric characters (A-Z, 0-9) or a period (“.”) Usernames are not case sensitive. Certain generic words such as “pizza” and “flowers” (and no doubt certain rude words, too) are not allowed as usernames.

Once you click “Set Username,” the username you’ve chosen cannot be changes, edited or transferred to a different Facebook account.  Think long and hard about what username you’ll want to have attached to your Page or to your personal Profile for the rest of your time as a Facebook member — and type it in carefully.

When an account is deleted, that username will not be made available again. Facebook does this for security reasons. This may be an inconvenience, and will certainly lead to a rush on usernames by people with names like “John Smith,” but if you think about it you’ll see it makes good sense to protect the reputations of Facebook members who might leave the network in future.

For more information, see Facebook’s special FAQ for usernames.

Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Wednesday, 10 June 2009 at 4:05 PM


  • Ching Ya said:

    Thursday, 11 June 2009 at 5:23 AM

    I'm just hoping by Saturday the FB site will run smoothly without any loading problems.There are bound to be a huge influx of traffic, and wish everyone luck on getting the username successfully.

    So, I've asked my imaginary magic-8-ball, and yes, FB may need to deal with complaints on some people stealing their big names.  

  • Maggie McGary said:

    Thursday, 11 June 2009 at 6:04 AM

    I'm disappoited that there's a requirement as far as number of fans. I'm sure there are lots of associations and nonprofits with fewer than 1,000 fans and I can't imagine how it would hurt Facebook any to allow these groups to claim vanity urls. Meanwhile, it could really help the nonprofits attract more fans and raise awareness of their issues if they could easily promote their facebook pages.

  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Thursday, 11 June 2009 at 6:46 AM

    Maggie, I totally agree with you - it's a real shame to shut out the many smaller associations and nonprofits who could really use the help to promote their Pages.

    My best guess is that Facebook may be trying to ensure that all the big brands get their desired usernames - to minimize the amount of resources they'd have to put into dealing with conflicts and appeals. While that would make sense from Facebook's POV, in terms of efficiency and keeping their advertisers happy, let's hope for a more open second round...

    Ching Ya brings up an interesting point here, too, about the server load that can be expected with a rush to claim usernames. Perhaps the minimum-1000-fans and age-of-Page restrictions are also meant to try to control that expected huge influx of traffic. In which case, the plan might well be to introduce usernames more widely, but to do so in manageable increments. Here's hoping!

  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Friday, 12 June 2009 at 8:03 PM

    Good news for those who have Facebook Pages with less than 1000 fans -- Facebook just added a second paragraph to the requirements FAQ:

    Your Facebook Page must meet two requirements: it must have been live on Facebook prior to the May 31, 2009 cut-off date and have had a minimum 1,000 fans at that time.

    This limitation is temporary. All Pages created after May 31, 2009 or that had less than 1,000 fans on that day will be eligible to claim usernames on Sunday, June 28, 2009.

  • Wild Apricot Blog said:

    Monday, 05 October 2009 at 7:38 AM

    One of Wild Apricot's readers got in touch recently about a problem with getting a custom username

  • MA Giles said:

    Tuesday, 05 January 2010 at 3:47 AM

    I recently tried to claim a username for a unpublished FB Page I created and it wouldn't let me.  Someone said you need to have a minimum of 100 fans to claim....I can't verify this.

  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Tuesday, 05 January 2010 at 7:03 AM

    MA Giles, currently a Facebook Page needs to have 25 fans before it's eligible to get a custom username.

Sorry, this blog post is closed for further comments.

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