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Has Facebook set the stage for a new land rush?

Photo courtesy Frames-of-Mind via Flickr

Photo courtesy Frames-of-Mind via Flickr

Starting on Saturday at 12:01 a.m., Facebook users will be able to change the URLs for their profiles and pages, which have until now been identified by randomly assigned strings of numbers, to more personalized names. The goal, according to a post on the Facebook Blog that has attracted more than 30,000 comments, is to make user profiles more findable in search engines. “Your new Facebook URL is like your personal destination, or home, on the Web,” the blog post says. But as brands have dealt with domain squatting and Twitter squatting, will this option give cybersquatters yet another target?

To mitigate concerns about people snatching up brand names for their URLs, Facebook says users may not immediately be able to register a personalized URL if they have created a new page after May 31 or a new profile after June 9 (more info on the difference between pages and profiles here). But that doesn’t address the fact that millions of users will each get one crack at a URL of their choice for their own profiles. Unless you have notified Facebook of your trademarked name using this form, it is essentially up for grabs. Whereas previously the URL for your Facebook profile was something like http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=123456789, you can get up on Saturday morning and change it to http://www.facebook.com/anycompanyyouwant, as long as the name’s owner has not already claimed it by notifying Facebook of its trademark protection. For brands with profiles or pages, it’s not a bad idea to grab your username this weekend.

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