Facebook Vanity URLs and InequalityTweet
Ok, so maybe I'm a little miffed that I wasn't one of the chosen few who got to register a Facebook username before everyone else did. I'm not a journalist and nor am I a Facebook employee. Nor am I personally an advertiser on Facebook so maybe I don't deserve to have been given the opportunity to register a username before anyone else. Still I think there's something wrong with this process.
Facebook isn't just any old company anymore. Sure it is privately owned and privately run. And yes, it has every right to do what it likes. But what Facebook doesn't realize is that it is its users who make Facebook a success. Facebook has an obligation to be fair and equal to them. The social network contains our social graphs and our content. Facebook is uniquely positioned to be more than just another web publisher with audiences. It wants to be the social utility for the whole web. Those are great aspirations and in many ways they're done a lot of good to get on that path. But it cannot simply met out favors to whomever it may please. Imagine if Network Solutions started giving its employees first dibs at vanity urls? How absurd that would be!
Facebook is launching vanity urls for users and companies starting at 12:01am EDT, Saturday, June 13th 2009. However, select journalists, companies and employees have been given an opportunity to register names beforehand. Sorry Facebook, but to me that smacks of inequality and as a long time user of Facebook I believe that is not in the ethos of the service. It reminds me of the net neutrality debate and how certain cable companies want their preferred content to run at a faster pace than other content on the internet.
If Facebook is about preferential treatment, then maybe their tag line should be changed from, " Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life" too "Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life and if we like you we'll help you a little more than the others."
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