I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again… I can never understand why people get their knickers in such a twist at the thought of Facebook changing something. Case in point: Facebook’s recent announcement that they will soon allow users to set up a personalized, or “vanity”, URL for their profile.
You see, as of right now, the URL for your Facebook profile looks something like this:
Which is just a randomly assigned string of numbers — gobbledegook, essentially. However, at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Saturday, June 13, you’ll be able to set up a vanity URL for your Facebook profile by specifying a username, like so:
Personally, I think it’s a fine idea. Not groundbreaking or anything — countless other sites, be they social networks or no, already let you do this. There are a lot of potential branding and marketing benefits, and it makes sense from usability standpoint. The simple fact that you’ll be able to easily tell someone your Facebook URL — provided you have one that’s easy to say and remember — makes it a welcome change.
However, if you read this post on Facebook’s blog, and quickly scan through the 48,000+ (as of right now) comments, you’ll see that a lot of people think this is a bad idea. No, scratch that: they think it’s a horrible idea and they’re, as I said, getting their knickers in a twist big time.
Now, if you don’t like this idea because you like your Facebook URL as it currently is, then that’s one thing. But a lot of people seem to be taking this incredibly personally and/or crying that this marks the end of Facebook (or at the very least, yet another indication of Facebook’s slow downhill slide).
From what I can see, a lot of people’s anger and doom-and-gloom comments stem from a basic misunderstanding of what Facebook is actually going to do. Admittedly, I think Facebook’s use of the term “username” in this case is a little confusing. But all that Facebook’s change does is modify the URL that others can use to view your profile. It doesn’t change the real name that appears on your account — in other words, regardless of what I use for my vanity URL, the name that appears on my Facebook profile will still be “Jason Morehead”.
Furthermore, you do not have to do this if you don’t want to. When I read through Facebook’s post, as well as the related FAQ, I don’t see any language that implies that this change is mandatory, that you have to do it. If you want your Facebook URL to remain “as is”, you can do so.
Some commenters have also complained that this makes Facebook more like MySpace (or some other site that they dislike). Well, that’s only partially true: this makes Facebook more like MySpace, Flickr, Twitter, Last.fm, YouTube, Reddit, Virb, et al. — sites that allow you to personalize your presence on them with a vanity URL. But to say that Facebook giving its users vanity URLs somehow spells its doom is to make a huge — and embarassing — leap in logic.
I suppose that, from a certain perspective, all of this outrage proves that Facebook is doing something right. People are naturally resistant to change, and that’s even truer for something that is particularly important to them. So if people are getting this bent out of shape over a minor change — when compared to some of the other changes that Facebook has made in the recent past — then Facebook must be pretty important to these people. Otherwise, why would they speak out so loudly against it?
(Then again, this could also be more proof that people are simply incapable of restraining themselves from becoming whiny little bitches when they’re on the Internet.)