Facebook vanity URL gold rush, coming soon

If you have a Facebook account and are tired of having to tell all your friends and strangers you meet on the street to visit you at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=847O63782 or whatever, things are about to change. At 12:01 am Eastern Standard Time this coming Saturday, 13 June (5:01 am in the UK), you will be able to sign up for something a bit more manageable, say, http://www.facebook.com/joetheplumber.

As detailed on the Facebook blog, "Your new Facebook URL is like your personal destination, or home, on the Web. People can enter a Facebook username as a search term on Facebook or a popular search engine like Google, for example, which will make it much easier for people to find friends with common names."

Gone are the days when you would meet people at a party or club or bus stop and have to find a pen to write on their arm your randomly assigned nine-digit Facebook member code. Now it's easy--you can just tell the world that you are "'joetheplumber'--no spaces--on Facebook!"

The company calls these personalised names "Facebook usernames". For people worried about privacy, we are assured that "[y]our username will have the same privacy setting as your profile name in Search, and you can always edit your search privacy settings."

But you'll have to hurry if you want to get Facebook to do for you what MySpace and other social-networking sites have done for some time. Barack Obama got in early (as did many other non-ordinary citizens and businesses). His Facebook username? barackobama, of course!

The last thing you'd want is to lose your preferred vanity URL to someone else in the stampede.

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