One of Facebook’s latest additions, usernames, allows individuals to personalize their Facebook URL. These have been available from midnight of June 13th. According to Facebook blog, a username will make it easier for friends and family to find you. It will heighten authenticity and create a trusted environment. These selling points emphasise this tool is optional and secure.
A major issue resulting from usernames is what Facebook have dubbed “name squatting”. To avoid a stranger pinching your identity Facebook staff have introduced a number of steps to combat this issue.
1. Only owners of accounts existing before the announcement date (3pm, June 9th, 2009) are eligible for a username.
2. Names have been reserved which ‘have been brought to our [Facebook’s] attention in an effort to help third parties protect their intellectual property and other rights.’
3. A non-transferable policy.
Usernames have inspired a mixed reaction from Facebook users. However, statistics give a clear idea of the popularity. ½ a million users signed up within 15 minutes and nearly 6 million by the end of the day on Sunday. Celebrities have been quick to join, with URLs such as www.facebook.com/britneyspears and www.facebook.com/PMKevinRudd in use.
By introducing a tool that is by no means a new one, Facebook makes another move in the fast-paced evolution of social media.