Facebook seems to have taken the place of honor for most popular social networking site. But the Palo Alto company is looking to the functionality of MySpace in a move that will take effect this Saturday. Usernames are coming to Facebook, and this might not affect thousands of casual Internet users that happen to utilize this social service. For the rest of us, we can finally have an easily promotable, bloggable, embeddable account URL, just like we used to have at MySpace.
As an example, the Facebook blog post from Blaise DiPersia shows the clunky system that is currently in use - a randomly generated profile number following the domain name in the address line of the browser. No part of this process is personalized or intuitive.
But as of 12:01 a.m. EDT on Saturday, June 13, the username functionality will be unlocked, allowing such melodious possibilities as this author's profile being accessible at a recognizable, type-able location.
Since anything can be made political, some fuss is being made over the distribution process. As the Mercury News mentions, company employees and industry journalists will be getting advance pick of account names, which must be unique within the network of Facebook. The drawback of this will be highly visible for those with more traditional names, requiring some creativity.
This is not a new system. Anyone who has an online account almost anywhere is familiar with the act of choosing a username for better or worse, but also for simplicity. But the choice is permanent for each individual's account, so for professional purposes this has some significance.
Professional purposes? This is a social networking site, no matter how ubiquitous the platform is becoming. Though articles are starting to engage in name-calling, this is after all a voluntary system. No one is tattooing IP addresses on anyone's forehead.