Do You Have a Facesquatting Problem?



Thousands of Facebook users made a mad dash to reserve their unique Facebook URL's on Friday night. Did you get yours? Oh wait ... you mean you had better things to do late on a Friday night? This seemingly over-hyped event seemed to go off without a hitch.

Facebook didn't crash and there haven't been a lot of complaints of Facesquatting ... er ... cybersquatting. Cybersquatting, of course, is where someone claims a famous name or trademark on the Internet with the hope of getting a big pay from the trademark owner -- sort of like what Tony LaRussa sued Twitter for earlier this month.

Facebook says over half a million names were claimed within the first fifteen minutes after the gates opened up (at 11 pm Friday St. Louis time). 

So what was the big deal? Facebook for the first time allowed users to assign their own custom Facebook Internet addresses to their profile page on Facebook. For instance, I was able to get mine with no problems. But I wasn't able to set the name of the fan page I set up for Lo-Fi Saint Louis. Fan Pages (pages for businesses or celebrities that are public on Facebook) had to have one thousand members before May 31st to register a Facebook domain name. These pages are restricted from registration until June 28th (one of the many restrictions Facebook put in place to prevent abuse).

Other services, like Twitter, have always done this by default, and MySpace rolled this out a long time before they hit their peak. This is a big deal mostly because Facebook is so ... um ... big. And until now, Facebook pages have been closed to the rest of the Internet. They haven't been viewable by non-Facebook users, and closed off from search engines. These custom domain names open them up to indexing by outside search engines at least by associating a name with a Facebook page, even though a page on Facebook can still be private. 

Facebook put some roadblocks into place to prevent abuse of this new feature. They disallowed a ton of popular brand names, and once a name has been set it can't be changed. Also the names are non-transferable. They also allowed entities who were worried about trademark infringement to suggest that their names be disallowed by the Facebook system via a form. 

Of course, your Facebook URL only has value as long as Facebook does. And given the hype around Facebook and Twitter this year, I'd say we're pretty much at the apex of their popularity for another 20 minutes or so. Remember AOL? How about Friendster? MySpace ...? Anyone? So even without the stock market IPO's and non-existant profits that were all the rage in Web 1.0 and factoring in the current economic recession, one thing that seems to always be in season is hype over the next great thing on the web. 

So were you able to get your name? Were you able to grab someone elses name or trademark? Fess up in the comments. 


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