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Get Your Facebook Usernames Here!

If all the status updates, photos, links, notes, quizzes and games you've added to your Facebook profile don't adequately reflect the awesomeness that is you, just wait until this weekend. Starting at 12:01 a.m. Eastern time Saturday, you'll be able to choose a username and convert your Facebook profile's Web address from an alphanumeric mess into something more memorable.

So, for example, instead of pointing friends to:

(that's not a real address, as far as I can tell) you could instead direct them to:

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based social network broke the news and explained the basics of this new feature in a blog post yesterday. Facebook will suggest a few usernames based on your own name, but you'll also be able to write something of your own creation as long as it's at least five characters long (so much for my dream of grabbing "robp") and consists only of numbers, letters and periods.

The post further explains that you'd better choose your username wisely: "Once it's been selected, you won't be able to change or transfer it." Anybody want to guess -- assuming that Facebook's servers don't first implode from all the traffic -- how many people will misspell a desired username in the wee hours of Saturday after spending a few too many hours at the bar?

Facebook's help section spells out further details. A separate note explains how administrators of public Facebook pages -- if they had 1,000 or more fans as of May 31 -- can set their own custom username and address.

My own public page was about 960 fans short of that minimum at the end of May, so I'll have to content myself with christening my personal presence on Facebook. Given the rarity of my spellcheck-defying surname, I'm not too worried about claiming a distinct moniker. But many other people -- here I'm thinking of friends and co-workers with last names like "Smith," "Brown" and "Norton" -- may have to get creative to find a memorable username that hasn't already been taken by one of this social network's 200-million-plus users.

If you're on Facebook, what do you plan to do with this opportunity? Do you have a username in mind that you'll try to grab right away? Or will you wait and see what's available after the initial, crazed land rush slows down?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  June 10, 2009; 9:27 AM ET
Categories:  Digital culture , The Web  
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I wonder if the initial mad rush will crush facebook's servers. I know they have a massive infrastructure but still...

Posted by: tundey | June 10, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Anybody else get a "Featured Advertiser" spam link in the Faster Forward RSS feed?

Posted by: arlingtonian4 | June 10, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

(Just kidding, Rob! Love your blog.)

Posted by: SSMD1 | June 10, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Their "massive infrastructure" has had a lot of issues lately loading images in browsers and accepting image posts from the mobile app. I'll bet this precipitates a huge cluster...fruit.

Posted by: MaxH | June 10, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone explained why Facebook is making this change --- I am perfectly happy with the user name being my real name; it only confuses things when users hide hide behind madeup names -- much like many the crazed people who comment here in WaPo comments sections. I agree that the Facebook servers are likely to crash on Saturday night while people try to sign up for their preferred name.

Posted by: escharf | June 10, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

It's not your user name that is changing, as is stated in the above post. it's the web address that will change, which is what should have been made clear, but isn't in the post (or rather, not to clear). he stated "you'll be able to choose a username" whereas he probably should have said something like - you'll be able to choose a web address or URL". his example is correct, just not the wording in the first paragraph.

So your current "user name" will still be your full name, but your web address can either remain as it is or you can choose a different one.

Posted by: jeddiknights | June 11, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Any bets on how long Facebook will be offline as a result of this?

Posted by: Sara | June 11, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

I don't think I like this.

Many of the social gaming apps on Facebook use your Facebook ID as your gaming ID. If I change mine from 123456789 to JohnDoe, then everybody knows my name - even when I set my profile to "only visible to friends"

Then again, how many times do you plan on saying "check out my facebook account at"? It'll be "go to facebook and search for my name" just like it is now.

Posted by: r6345 | June 11, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Agreed, r6345. If I understand this right, it's a further move of Facebooking towards MySpace, as we all know, myspace is usernamed based. The reason facebook was so popular in the beginning is that is was a better alternative to myspace. I loved the old days of facebook, where you had to register with a .edu account. I hate that highschoolers and business people are on. Highschoolers shouldn't have that much information about each other, it's dangerous. And business people... sorry here, but as a college senior I can tell you, I am deleting my page as soon as I graduate. Because if I am using facebook while getting a solid paycheck, I deserve to be shot, sorry people, but it's creepy for older folks to be online, it's how it is.

Posted by: 77marshall | June 11, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Hosting a virtual party to commemorate Fb's vanity URLs. Just use #fburlparty in a tweet to be featured on this page,

Posted by: nebben | June 11, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

How about we check in with you in a year, marshall? I'd bet my bar tab that you'll still be online. And if not, all your friends will be asking why you're not.

Posted by: j-man1 | June 11, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

I'll try to get a name when it opens up, but I expect the supporting systems will crap out.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | June 11, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Excuse me? Did I just hear you say that "it's creepy for older folks to be online"? Whoo boy, dude - you seriously need to check yourself in that remark - Bill Gates, Tim Berners-Lee and Steve Jobs are all 53; Vint Cerf is 65, and that's only a SHORT list. Maybe you meant it's creepy to see "square" people online, lol I'm quite sure I smoked my first joint before you were even a twinkle in your daddy's eye, so chill out on that. Age bias is so, like, twentieth century, dude.

Posted by: hkindt | June 11, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

77marshall please do me a favor: save that post. Time capsule it. Open it in 20 years and you will hold your head and groan. Trust me.... :-)

Posted by: cellenh | June 11, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

77marshall, do you *promise* that you'll go offline when you graduate?! Because Facebook (and other online communities) would be so much more pleasant without thoughtless, ageist ignorance like yours!

Posted by: mccxxiii | June 11, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Maybe young people should invent their own internet and leave the old one to the old people who invented it.

Posted by: cloudy2 | June 11, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Just for you, 77 marshall: Why Faebook is for Old Fogies,9171,1879169,00.html

Posted by: txportia | June 11, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Youth is wasted on the young...and 77marshall.

Posted by: SamFelis | June 11, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Just me, but I'm content to live with e-mail, and if I really wanted a page, I'd make a webpage. I still haven't found a reason I need My Space, Facebook, twitter, or, for that matter, need to text everyone continually. And, I admit, I'm in the apparent minority. (my e-mail address, not a My Space, Facebook, or Twitter identity)

Posted by: Dungarees | June 11, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

"how many people will misspell a desired username in the wee hours of Saturday after spending a few too many hours at the bar"

NONE, because the people social enough to be at a bar on a weekend night won't be the types getting all excited about a username

Posted by: praxis22 | June 11, 2009 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Facebook finally realized how difficult it was for people to locate each other without any username.

Type-in traffic or word-of-mouth referral was virtually impossible with the old cryptic addressing model, and out of step with other social media portals offering URL identifiers.

This is definitely a much needed step in the right direction.

I just got

Have never been able to remember what my original cryptic URL was, let alone refer any traffic to Facebook

Posted by: terencechan | June 13, 2009 6:18 AM | Report abuse

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