Facebook has prided itself on forcing users to stick hard and true to their real names, eliminating the zany, anonymous nonsense on other social networking sites. The real-name policy isn’t changing, but Facebook is finally letting wacky nicknames into the mix, announcing that it will let you choose an alternate name for your profile page, letting friends who know you only as “Spanky” find you without having to recall your given moniker. The new name can also replace the nine-digit number assigned to you on your Facebook URL.
Unlike Secret Agent Man, Facebook’s taking ‘way your number and giving you a name.
EWeek has the skinny:
“When your friends, family members or co-workers visit your profile or Pages on Facebook, they will be able to enter your user name as part of the URL in their browser,” [Facebook designer Blaise] DiPersia wrote. “This way people will have an easy-to-remember way to find you.”
For the five years of its existence, Facebook’s content management system has assigned random numbers to each person’s profile page URL, such as “id=592952074.” Starting June 13, if a user isn’t already connected to a friend and isn’t able to find his or her name through the site’s search function, the user can simply replace the nine-digit number with the friend’s user name.
The user name also can be used in the search function. The friend’s site then is supposed to pop right up.
“From the beginning of Facebook, people have used their real names to share and connect with the people they know,” DiPersia wrote. “This authenticity helps to create a trusted environment because you know the identity of the people and things on Facebook.
“The one place, though, where your identity wasn’t reflected was in the Web address for your profile or the Facebook Pages you administer.”
According to the story, user names must be at least five characters long and only use letters, numbers or periods. So you’re apparently out of luck if you want to use a hyphen. It’s a free service, and only users who were already registered before the announcement will be allowed to pick names come June 13th, to help prevent squatting. You also won’t be able to change the name or give it over to someone else (also to prevent squatting), so choose with care. Here’s more information at the Facebook blog.
In other news, MySpace still exists, loves you for who you are and wants you back so hard.