How many of you have claimed your Facebook username? Have you even heard of the term?? I had heard of it but never “claimed” one because I was not interested in having a personal Facebook URL or web address. I did not want (and still don’t!) the world visiting my Facebook “page” and learning about me, my friends, my opinions, my likes, etc. I’ve always kept my Facebook page for personal interest and not for professional reasons.
So what is a username exactly? A username - just as the term implies - is a name you choose that will allow you to have direct access to your Facebook page. It will appear in the location bar of your browser in this format - http://www.facebook.com/your-chosen-username-here. By entering this URL, anyone can get to your page - depending on how unlocked your privacy settings are. You can get general information about usernames and how to set one up from Facebook Help (I’ve linked directly to the Usernames: General Information page).
So let me qualify now… I was never interested in claiming one UNTIL I read this article from PC Magazine titled: Facebook’s Sharing Plans Aren’t Evil by Lance Ulanoff. Specifically, it was this statement that caught my attention:
Accept that Facebook is a social networking business with an aim to make a lot of money. It is not out to harm you, but is also not necessarily operating in your best interests.
and this example:
I even want you to run a little test to see how much of you is already accessible to anyone in the outside world—including those not on Facebook. Start by typing this URL into your browsing address bar: http://graph.facebook.com/[USERNAME]. Replace [USERNAME] with your user name (no spaces).
The controversy - and why Facebook is in the news again - is that Facebook exposed their users’ home addresses and cell phone numbers to developers and publishers. If you use a particular developer’s application or have linked your account with publishers of Web sites, these individuals now have access to your private data. The risk is that they could turn around and sell the information to spammers or use it to commit identity theft.
I decided to get myself a username just to see exactly what personal information was going to be shown. Individuals had already claimed my first and last name (and various variations) for themselves - no loss to me - so I chose something innocuous. I performed the test as suggested by the article’s author. I came back with not much - but of course, I’m writing this after the controversy and AFTER Facebook pulled back the new feature. Thus, I can’t see how securely locked down my account will be. But rest assured, I’ll be trying again in the future!
For anyone interested, I recommend the Electronic Frontier Foundation video on how to set your Facebook privacy settings. You can find it here - embedded in another one of my Tumblr posts.
The “evil” idea brings me back to the time when Microsoft had an Easter Egg embedded in it’s Select 3D Text (OpenGL) screen saver in Windows 4.0. If you put in the text “Not evil”, the screensaver would show you the developers names. Windows 4.0 was a giant in its day and many considered Microsoft “evil” because of it’s size and corporate power. The verdict is obviously your own opinion but is Facebook the new Microsoft of our decade?