I’m not really a Facebook user. I set up an account sometime in 2007, and then promptly forgot my login ID and password. Nothing about Facebook really appealed to me: I’m not sure why, perhaps at least partly because a lot of what it does I had already more or less been doing for a decade with my own website/blog.
However, I heard a few weeks ago that the Facebook folks were going to start allowing people to set up personal or “vanity” urls. So instead of “http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=39395883”, you could have something like “http://www.facebook.com/cooldude”. I thought I should probably lay claim to some kind of recognizable URL, and so I dug through my old notes and tried to dredge up my old Facebook account information.
Things didn’t go so well for me: initially, I couldn’t find which of my several email addresses I had used to create the account. So I figured I’d create a new account, and set that up with a fancy new URL. Unfortunately, the folks at Facebook realized that the availability of “personal” or vanity URLs might cause a bit of a flood of people creating new accounts purely to “squat” on potentially popular names. So they put some time limits on the process: your account must be over a certain age before you can claim a named URL. This meant my newly-created account was not going to allow me to get a personal name.
I finally dug up the email account I had used to create my original Facebook account, and even found the password. A few minutes later I was logging in and, as the owner of an “entitled” account, I was immediately prompted with the option to select my own personal URL. After trying a few names and discovering them already claimed, I settled on the obvious: http://www.facebook.com/kgadams.
All of this was intriguing, and it went quite smoothly once I got my account information sorted out. But how were things behind the scenes for the Facebook folks? From the looks of things, they were ready for a catastrophe, and had everything in place to manage it. Over 200,000 people signed up for personal URLs in the first three minutes, and over a million within the first hour after the service became available at 12:01 AM EDT on Saturday (9:01 PM Pacific time Friday). There are well over 3 million registered “vanity” URLs on Facebook now, which is something like 2% of their total user base. Not bad for the first day.
I still won’t likely be spending much time on Facebook: I have Twitter for “quick” updates, and this blog for my larger thoughts, so I’m not sure what that leaves for Facebook. But it is worth checking out, and I’m there now, with my own proper URL.