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Facebook's Namespace Land Grab? Or Maybe…It's Just Useful

By - June 11, 2009

Much buzz over the past few days about Facebook’s plans to let folks (and, ahem, brands) claim their namespaces on Facebook. IE, Starting this weekend, I should be able to claim www.facebook.com/johnbattelle, just like I already “own” www.twitter.com/johnbattelle (sort of).

Anil Dash has a very funny send up of all this in a future forward timeline satire here. His point is – why is everyone falling all over themeselves to get their vanity URL on Facebook – or Twitter, or anywhere else for that matter – when the web is an open place and anyone can get their own URL, after all.

Well, yes and no. I’ve been complaining about Facebook’s terrible link structure for a long time. We all spend time there, and create and share value there, but up till this weekend, it’s been very difficult to point folks to places *inside* Facebook from places *outside* Facebook. The future of the web is ecosystemic – it’s not about being in one place – this blog, that Twitter feed, or that Facebook page, it’s about the ability to be anywhere, depending on the context and the moment. Sewing it all together is critical, and this move should make Facebook that much easier to incorporate into an ongoing, web wide conversation. I hope.


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8 thoughts on “Facebook's Namespace Land Grab? Or Maybe…It's Just Useful

  1. JT says:

    Now that they’re distributing usernames, do you think they’ll develop a full email system (i.e. anyone, even non FB users, could send a message or content to johnbattelle@facebook.com)?

  2. coxy says:

    Virb (dot com) are in the process of making the ‘all things in one place’ a reality.

    By a domain and change the CNAME records and you can have all your ‘stuff’ from other social network aggregated to your Virb page, along with any new content you exclusively create on Virb.

    They’re testing it right now, as I type this, see: http://thisisthematt.com/

  3. Personally, as a common “Jennifer Mitchell” I struggle in the land-grab for high Google results for my name. (It’s easy for my business.) I can see the benefits of creating a personal vanity-URL so I can own my own name (within a URL)on one social media site- for once. Maybe it will help push me ahead on Google, too? At the least, to your point, it should make it easier for people to link to me on Facebook.

    For businesses, I think it just looks more buttoned up. And as often as people cross-link from one site to another, cosmetically it looks better.

    Further, Myspace has had this functionality for a long time.

    Verdict: Useful for some.

  4. Michael says:

    I completely agree with John: Most people are seeing custom URIs as tool for improving searchibility, but that’s silly. It’s about improving shareablility.

    (Still, I’m always kinda confused by people putting social network profiles on business cards. They shouldn’t depend on the good behavior of somebody else’s URI structure. If you really want a social network profile to your main point of contact, at least register a personal domain and redirect it to the profile. That way, you’re not too screwed if Facebook changes their URIs, goes out of business, or does something else weird.)

    JT: I suspect it’s less about e-mail and more about duplicating Twitter’s @reply functionality.

    Facebook is clearly trying to muscle in on Twitter’s turf as a cross-platform (web, desktop, mobile) status/messaging tool. If you think about, @replies are one of Twitter’s few big advantages right now:

    1)They allow you to post a message to a friend without going to that friend’s profile page.

    2) They allow you send one post to multiple friends.

    3) They allow you to add an easy link to a third party within a post.

    Facebook can’t really copy those features until users have human-memorizable unique identifiers. I won’t be at all surprised if Facebook adds an @reply syntax to its SMS and web interfaces, using the new usernames.

  5. Rob Ludlow says:

    Anil Dash’s satirical article was fantastic! One of the most funny / clever things I’ve read in a while.

    My favorite part: “Coincidentally, 220,000 unemployed professionals will realize to their horror that their Facebook profile now ranks above their LinkedIn profile if a prospective employer googles them…”

    I’ve had pretty good success at owning most of the first page on the SERPs for my name (I was pleased to see that I owned the entire page on BING). Going with the flow with something like “FU” is almost forced participation if one wants to play the SEO game… which can be oodles of fun.

  6. mike says:

    sounds like a good idea. i just signed up with FB last night — actually, my fiancee did it for me and the profile is still chillin there like a dead fish, haha.

    @coxy: that reminds me a bit of sweetcron.

  7. Srinivas says:

    I have created my user name http://www.facebook.com/ks.srinivas

    However, I badly wanted “srinivas”, FB said it was not available. But, http://www.facebook.com/srinivas is still not working.

    I could not create the user name via Chrome, did anyone else see similar issues ?

  8. I grabbed my username. I did it because I could and I wanted people to find me under facebook.com/ricardobueno.

    But before vanity url’s were even available I had a subdomain pointing to my facebook page: facebook.ricardobueno.com.

    It’s great branding and much cleaner than that long numbered url.

    Yes I think it’s cool that Facebook opened up vanity urls. But if they hadn’t, I’d still have my subdomain pointing right where I want it.