Facebook usernames, what will you christen yourself?

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On Saturday morning at 5.01am UK time, Facebook usernames go live. Users will have the chance to register a username which will develop a unique URL for their profile. Currently the URL is populated by random characters and the move will make it “easier for people to find and connect with you” according to Facebook.

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As with any change that involves the social networking giant, the announcement has created a big debate online. Some users have been requesting the service for a while now, whereas some users are stringently against it.

Here’s a quick overview of some of the positive and negative impacts the move may cause:

Positive – The creation of usernames should improve shareability, which has got to be a good thing in terms of a social media. Instead of having to search for an individual’s actual name via Google or Facebook directly, users can now search by username – which has proved popular on other platforms like Twitter and MySpace.

It will also be much easier to give your Facebook details to new people you meet. You could even have it printed on a business card if you are really cool/sad.

It will also make it easier to link all of your social networking tools together – providing you use the same username for every platform you are registered with.

Negative
– As with any change to Facebook, concerns are going to be raised about privacy and security. Protest groups have, not surprisingly, already been set up.

There are also major worries that people won’t be able to get their desired user names. Facebook has over 200million members, remember. That’s a lot of people competing to get usernames. There’s bound to be issues with username squatting as well, as there are with domain names currently.

The move also leads to comparisons with MySpace – a service that many people stopped using as the popularity of Facebook began to take hold. It could be argued that usernames are a bit of a backward step.

Either way, expect Facebook to freeze up at 5.01am on Saturday as the race begins. I’ll be awarding a gold star to anyone who manages to register ‘markzuckerberg’.

Read the full FAQs here.

Paul Lamkin