Pseudonymbook? Facebook Will Let You Use An Alias June 13

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.

Facebook to Allow User Names Beginning June 13 [EWeek]
(Photo: !!!! scogle)


Edit Your Comment

  1. GitEmHomerJay! says:

    Somehow I feel I can get myself into some mischief by choosing my friends REAL name as my alias.

  2. idip says:

    Sigh Facebook.

    Scary stuffs. I so want to ask if I have a facebook… but I’m afraid of all the internet sleuths on here, lol.

  3. Unsolicited Advice says:

    Another in a series of changes that have rendered a once-useful tool worthless.

    • Cant_stop_the_rock says:
      • AstroPig7 says:

        @Cant_stop_the_rock: My guess is that it starts Facebook down the slippery slope toward the emetic crap that makes MySpace a chore to read. As another commentor already noted, “pimping” your Facebook sounds like a hop away. As for past changes, do you remember when Facebook was only for students? When Facebook was opened to every meat-head in Christendom, there was a virtual riot. Private communities frequently turn xenophobic, especially when the forum begins to look like a cesspool.

    • LegoMan322 says:

      @Unsolicited Advice: I am wondering how FaceBook is useful? I cannot find a decent purpose for it beside getting your information.

      • nakedscience says:

        @LegoMan322: Um, oh, I don’t know, how about connecting with friends, old and new? How about the fact that I found several old friends from elementary and high school that I’m very glad I was able to connect with again? How about the photobook? How about keeping in touch with family and friends all over the world? How about sharing information?

        “beside[sic] getting your information.”

        get off my lawwwwn!

        • LegoMan322 says:

          @nakedscience: How about email?

          • Porcelina says:

            @LegoMan322: Umm, how to you find long lost friends through email?

            • Porcelina says:

              @Porcelina: *do

            • LegoMan322 says:

              @Porcelina: @Etoiles: All I did was set up the FaceBook account. Find who I wanted to talk to and start to email them instead of talking threw FaceBook.

              Their service is very……not good or it’s a “front”. They are just a front for your information (which is why it is valued at $15 billion).

              I got what I needed. Since I could not find everyone, the people will find me through the same friends that we talk to.

              I just think that is a much safer way than people I have not seen, don’t really want to see constantly “friending” me. Also…why would you want to give FaceBook your information? Just not a smart thing to do…

              Ohh and all those apps? Yeah they are not for your entertainment.

              • nakedscience says:

                @LegoMan322: I don’t use the apps.

                Newsflash: You aren’t everyone. Stop pretending like your decisions and life choices are how everyone should live.

              • nakedscience says:


                All I did was set up the FaceBook account. Find who I wanted to talk to and start to email them instead of talking threw FaceBook.

                Wait. I thought it wasn’t useful to you at all! Stop trying to look ~cool~ by saying you don’t use facebook, when you clearly do. Also, it’s “through”.

                • LegoMan322 says:

                  @nakedscience: I never said I am everyone…. and you are a spunky little thing! Damn man…ever hear of an OPINION? If so..that was my opinion on FaceBook.

                  Also setting up the account was my name and email…I gave them no other information. And I would concider myself less “~cool~” if I used facebook… ” Ohh look at me…I have 37,000 friends…..WEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

                  • nakedscience says:

                    @LegoMan322: Not everyone has 37,000 friends. You are REALLY ignorant about facebook, man, and the reasons people use it

                    I am wondering how FaceBook is useful? I cannot find a decent purpose for it beside getting your information.

                    Apparently, you can’t find a decent purpose for it … except to create account and find people!

                    • LegoMan322 says:

                      @nakedscience: Once you have the people you want to talk to (even by setting up FaceBook and finding the people) Like I said before I suggest you close your account once you do that and start to email back and forth or use AIM or any other chat client.

              • Etoiles says:

                @LegoMan322: I don’t run any apps. In fact I have them all blocked. And I don’t put my address or phone number on Facebook. I still find it handy.

          • Etoiles says:

            @LegoMan322: Everyone I went to high school and college with, except three people, had an old AOL e-mail address for me. We closed that account in late 2000 and along with it went my address book. Oops.

            Want to look them up in a phone book? None of them have land lines, and half of the woman have changed their names upon marriage. Oops.

            Want to call up their parents and ask? Mom and dad retired and moved to Spain. Or died two years ago from cancer. Or divorced and remarried and have a new name. Oops.

            Plus, the joy of Facebook is that it’s a *self-updating* index of your friends. I never cared much about it one way or the other until I started wedding planning, but it’s been a huge help for having a quick go-to on “Was his boyfriend Steven, or Stephen?” or, “I forget, are he and Debbie still together?” or, “I have two addresses… is the California one newer, or the Massachusetts one?”

            Saved me about a week’s worth of playing phone tag.

            • NobleCrayfish says:

              @Etoiles: I felt the same way about the site being a self-updating address book, but fewer and fewer of my friends include useful contact info on their pages anymore because of privacy concerns. Moves like this only compound the problem.

            • oneandone says:

              @Etoiles: @NobleCrayfish: Self-updating address book, definitely. I’ve had the problem of trying to figure out which address is most recent. I hate using it as a communication tool, though. I’d much rather it just sit there and wait for me to use it, rather than have people send messages, invitations, etc. Seems a little simpler to do that through email. But that’s just me, I think.

          • nakedscience says:

            @LegoMan322: It’s not as convenient and you can’t start huge conversations with several friends at once, nor can you find people you haven’t already found through e-mail, nor can you have a photo book to share with friends through e-mail, post event calendars, etc etc etc.

    • gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

      @Unsolicited Advice: in my opinion, this change makes it more worthwhile. every year, i’ll go to a few specialized overnight camps and a conference or 2 and hand out “contact cards” (think business card, but with contact information for a 20-something, and no work-related contact info)
      i’ve never put my facebook url on there, because (in my opinion) that giant url looks sloppy.

    • Alexander says:

      @Unsolicited Advice: I’ll bite on your emo call for attention. Pray tell, how has this ruined Facebook? I’d also love to see that list of “series of changes”.

      • Unsolicited Advice says:


        When Facebook was introduced, it was very good at a few things:

        1.) Controlling who got in. Rather than Myspace’s sea of psuedonyms, .edu addresses were required. This reduced the appearance of impostors, marketers, and other annoyances.

        2.) Standardizing the user experience. The pages were relatively uniform, straightforward, and free from clutter.

        3.) Emphasizing planning and communication. The only real features were events, groups, photo sharing, and and statuses.

        Now, I’m bombarded with applications, surrounded by psuedonyms, and have to sift through context menus to perform basic tasks. If you have an iPhone, the app there is drastically superior to the website which is now jam-packed with extraneous “features” that reduce the usefulness of the site to me. Maybe some people want to sit around on Facebook for “entertainment” and pirate spam applications but that wasn’t my approach to the application.

        • nakedscience says:

          @Unsolicited Advice: I prefer my phone when I use Facebook, too; it’s less cluttered.

          The apps can get annoying, but you can cut down on some of them (mostly, I just ignore them).

          That doesn’t mean it’s “worthless” or “useless” — plenty of people find worth in it, and plenty of people use it.

          Hell, even MySpace can be useful to a certain extent: I found my very first major crush from when I was THIRTEEN. We hadn’t spoken in over 12 years. Now we’re sort of dating (he’s in the army).

          • Unsolicited Advice says:


            If your issue is with “worthless” or “useless” fine, I relent. I still use it, and mostly dispute the direction. I was going for brevity (and maybe a bit of hyperbole.)

  4. theblackdog says:

    If this will also make it so that people can’t search by my real name so easily, I am all for it since I don’t care to know how many of my high school classmates are knocked up by now.

    • lincolnparadox says:

      @theblackdog: Statistically, better than 30%? It could go as high as 70% by the time you’re 40, but at least 30% will also be barren.

      Unless you include “adoption” in your definition of “knocked up?”

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @theblackdog: I had the same concern, but since I and my friends always did it while standing up, no worries!
      Err, perhaps I need to check the update status of my friends…

  5. Anonymous says:

    I take great care to ensure that my online alias is never associated with my real first name. And if anyone knows my name, they can look me up in the phone book. I’m the only one listed under my name!

    So I’ll think I’ll pass, thank you very much.

    • SteelersAreGo says:

      @IrvinGautham: Wait a minute.

      Who is this?

    • Etoiles says:

      @IrvinGautham: I do the same, actually. There are some folks I initially met under my online alias who have since learned my real name and real life details (including, amusingly, my fiancé) but I never have it go the other way. If I nickname my Facebook account at all, it will have to be completely different from my other online handle(s).

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @IrvinGautham: I’m similar. I’ve got my personal online persona, my professional one, my spam-bait one and trai_dep. Never the twain shall meet. Facebook has only my personal one and it’s limited to close, real-world friends (and searching my name won’t work).
      Sadly, “trai_dep” has way more Google hits than the other three.
      [stares forlornly at screen for several seconds before wiping a single tear from my eye]

  6. Gaambit says:

    Despite all their wacky changes, I still prefer it as a time-waster over MySpace – it’s more aesthetically pleasing than the garish ads that are splayed all over every inch of MySpace.
    It also rendered my year high school reunion obsolete, so kudos!

  7. LuluStarPony says:

    Mark my words:

    This will only end in tears.

    Though I’m not sure if it will be of joy or actual sadness…

  8. Fuzzy_duffel_bag says:

    I fear this is another step towards being able to “pimp” your Facebook. Because who would want anyone to be able to read your profile?

  9. winshape says:

    I’m mixed. I like it because now I can finally put the name I’m known by out there. Since I went by my initials since middle school, no one knows my full name.

  10. takes_so_little says:

    @theblackdog: What makes you think your classmates are any more eager to get in touch with you, Mr. Sunshine?

  11. Cant_stop_the_rock says:

    You might want to consider NOT using a username that you use elsewhere. The way I’m reading it, someone who searched for your username would see any information that they would see if they searched for your real name. So searching for your username would reveal your real name, your friends, and any other information that you have allowed to be visible to anyone.

  12. sponica says:

    i’m assuming none of my privacy protections would change though, right? So if you aren’t in a college network, if you put in IC Weiner (not real username), you still wouldn’t find me and if you are in a college network all you’d see is my name and networks. No picture or other info…

    • Robobot says:

      @sponica: You may want to check your privacy settings after they make the switch just to make sure nothing has been changed. After one of the recent re-designs of Facebook, myself and many other members found our profiles were a lot less private than we had set them up to be.

  13. Gtmac says:

    Great. But my friends don’t know me as Mac28347.

  14. calquist says:

    I’m pretty confused over why people are upset about this. Your Profile will still list you as Firstname Lastname. Updates will still say ‘FirstName Lastname is bored’ and when your long lost best friend from preschool searches for Firstname Lastname, you will still pop up. If I don’t want ‘calquist’ associated with my facebook profile, *gasp* I won’t pick ‘calquist’ as my facebook alias. This isn’t changing facebook at all except for the link at the top of the page… it will make life easier for people like John Smith so when John says “Hey, add me on facebook” you do not have to sort through 500000 names. He can say “Hey check me out on facebook, I’m johnsmith23”

    Facebook has changed hundreds of times since it first started and it will continue to change every couple months. Facebook is just like your boyfriend: If he was exactly like he was in high school and never changed, you would leave him too.

  15. Meathamper says:

    “Whoa, sweet, Osama bin Laden is on Facebook!”

  16. Brian Ayson says:

    Facebook is becoming MySpace. Bummer.

  17. ryan89 says:
  18. morganlh85 says:

    Yeah, because remembering “sexyface921” is sooo much easier than remembering YOUR REAL NAME.

    Stupid idea, facebook.

    • nakedscience says:

      @morganlh85: …why is it stupid? You can still find someone with their full name.

      • morganlh85 says:

        @nakedscience: Because it’s a needless addition. Why would someone you theoretically know (since that’s what facebook is for) prefer to find you or identify you with some screen name instead of your ACTUAL name?

        • nakedscience says:

          @morganlh85: Um, many people ONLY know me, or know me best, from my online name.

          Also, it’s not always a screen name; it could be a NICKNAME.

          Also, it’s easier to remember than string of numbers, so you can easily point someone to your facebook account.

        • Anonymous says:

          @morganlh85: I get over 500 results when I search for my name on Facebook. Sure, I could tell people what Network to look me up under, but even that still requires a certain amount of sifting through results. Having a simpler URL could seriously cut that search time, especially if I meet people who aren’t already in my Network.

        • Michael Bauser says:

          @morganlh85: It’s not about making searching easier, it’s about sharing easier. Facebook is trying to make it easier for users to memorize their own profile URIs.

          Currently, if you want to write down, e-mail, or otherwise give a Facebook profile URI to someone, you either have to memorize a user number, or cut-and-paste from somewhere. (Not to mention the foolhardiness of verbally sharing a URI and expecting the other person to remember it.) Stupid nicknames are easier to remember, and therefore, easier to share.

          Also, the Facebook Blog post announcing the new feature says “We expect to offer even more ways to use your Facebook username in the future.” Facebook may be planning something (like more SMS-based features, or a standalone chat client) that needs easier-to-remember nicknames.

          (Anyway, telling people to search for you by real name doesn’t always scale. Me? It works well enough, because I have a relatively rare name (only 7 people on Facebook named “Michael Bauser,” and I’ll take care of the imposters soon enough soon enough). On the other hand, I once tried searching for a co-worker with the last name “Lee” — there were “over 500” Facebook members with her exact (first and last) name, five of them in our employer’s network.)

          All that said, I’m not really looking forward to this change, either. One of the things that annoys me about MySpace is the insipid nicknames people give themselves, and one of the things that annoys me about online nicknames is that they give “social media consultants” an excuse to babble about “personal branding.” I hate those guys.

  19. Alexander says:

    I think this change is more geared towards brands and commercial entities. After all, the test for vanity URLS was Also, DAMN, if you don’t want a vanity URL than don’t get a vanity URL.

  20. bbagdan says:

    I don’t get it. I’ve been using an alias on FB for years.

    • nakedscience says:

      @bbagdan: Many people who have unusual names sometimes get banned, so you must use a pretty generic alias.

    • kexline says:

      @bbagdan: This only relates to the URL, apparently, not your name. Facebook’s policy is that you are supposed to use your real name, but they are breathtakingly bad at enforcing it, harassing and banning people with unusual names, and then failing to notice when people give themselves names like “Racing Ray” or “Stressed Sam”.

      • MMD says:

        @kexline: Seconded. A friend of mine uses an alias because he’s a teacher and he doesn’t want his students finding him on FB. It’s glaringly obvious that it’s not a real name, but FB has never hassled him.

        • SimonGodOfHairdos says:

          @MMD: @MMD: Same here. My FB name is quite obviously not a “real” name, and I’ve never had any issues. Actually, I never even knew I wasn’t supposed to use a pseudonym until reading this post 10 seconds ago! I work with 6th graders who all have FB accounts, and on many occasions they have said they were going to search for me. If I were forced to use my real name I would have never registered for an account. Even if you privacy protect your account to the umpteenth level, it’s just not worth the potential hassle.

  21. Kaessa says:

    I thought Consumerist was better than this. I’ve been beating my head against this argument all day.

    ALL this will change is the URL, and it’s completely optional. Your profile will still have your real name on it, not an alias. It’s just a vanity URL.

  22. Chris Stone says:

    I plan on using my Twitter username, ChrisJStone, for the URL of my Facebook profile, where my display name is Chris J. Stone. Hopefully, I won’t have a problem. lol

  23. spanky says:

    Hey, wait. WHAT?

    Are you calling me out, Villarreal?

    I’m scared.

  24. Skaperen says:

    So if I have a hyphenated name, not only can I not fly on on anonymous airline, but I can’t have a pseudonym Facebook URL either. Is this discrimination or just widespread technical incompetence?

  25. Mark Moore says:

    So, if I register my facebook URL to the name of a giant corporation, lets say,, would I be able to profit off of this, like registering the domain then selling the domain?

    I’d be willing to start my facebook page over if someone was willing to pay for the rights to my email and password.

    • Michael Bauser says:

      @Mark Moore: The new terms of service says nicknames are not transferable. I’m pretty sure personal pages were already non-transferable. (Groups and Fan Pages have been a bit of grey area.)

  26. boxjockey68 says:

    Maybe I’m just crabby or something, I hate facebook, myspace, twitter and the like.

  27. RobertBaron says:

    Facebook is trying to twitterize themselves even more by being able to customize the url after the slash. I’m still waiting for the day when FB strips away everything and only gives you 4 characters to use in updates. That’ll show Twitter!

  28. macbeach says:

    At last I will no longer be living a lie!

  29. katoninetales says:

    Did anything stop you from entering your real name as “Spanky Jackson” before? I do not use my legal first name when I don’t have to. Few people know it and they wouldn’t think to look for me that way (having aliases used for a search might make it easier on people from, say, high school, when I did use a diminutive of my given first name, but they’ve found me anyway).

  30. Black-Cat says:

    It doesn’t mean a damn thing. All the information along with your ip address is harvested and sold to the CIA and other government data bases. But don’t believe me; use your brain if you have one and look up the facts. Or just keep telling Obama’s friends every thing you do.

  31. jermscentral says:

    @Unsolicited Advice:
    I still remember FINALLY getting our smaller university on Facebook back in 2005, and one of the best features was where you could enter your class schedule. This made it so much easier to get notes from someone in any of your classes if you missed/skipped that day. Once it opened to the masses, that feature mysteriously and silently disappeared.