This week Facebook is expected to announce a new feature: vanity URLs. The new web addresses will make it much easier for people to be found and market themselves. Rather than have the normal http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=xxxxxxxxx, users will have the chance to register http://www.facebook.com/yourname.
Sites like Flickr, Twitter, and LinkedIn have offered this feature for years. Facebook has allowed businesses and celebrities to have vanity URLs in the past, but never the general public.
There will be restrictions, however. No URLs may contain trademarks or generic keywords. So http://www.facebook.com/viagra and http://www.facebook.com/freecreditreport will be simply out of the question.
This is all part of Facebook’s strategy to market their profiles as a catch-all online identity. It’s realized the competition is doing something right for once and doesn’t want to be left in the cyber dust.
Right now it is looking like the vanity addresses will be first-come first-serve. But there is also speculation that the social networking site might charge for the feature. If so, you can count me out.