Two weeks ago Facebook, the world's largest social networking site, introduced Vanity URLs, which proved to be quite popular leading to an all-out landrush. However, at the time, only users with more than 1,000 fans were allowed to get a custom URL, one of the measures taken to prevent squatting. Last night the social network lowered the requirements to allow all users with more than 100 fans to claim their custom usernames, even those who joined after the initial announcement on June 9.
At first the limit for June 28 was for accounts with over 25 fans but recently Facebook changed it to 100, providing no explanation for the move. This has made 401,000 pages with 25 to 100 fans ineligible for a Vanity URL but, apparently, the site believed that the 25 limit wasn't enough to prevent username squatting, which, even after the first round of Vanity URLs, was still a real concern. The number of pages now eligible is 429,000, according to All Facebook, making up 30 percent of all pages.
Vanity URLs first became available for Facebook on June 13 and proved to be a real success with 200,000 of them registered in the first three minutes after the launch and 1 million within the hour. The feature is being offered for free, though there were some initial thoughts of charging for the service. An auction system was also considered but dropped as it would have required a massive computing power to process all the requests so the usernames are being offered on a “first come first served” basis.
Facebook has taken several measures to prevent username squatting, the main ones being the fan and account creation date limits; however, it is also offering enterprises or people who want to protect their names or trademarks a way to inform the company by using a form.