NPR logo Vanity URLs: 20 Minutes On Facebook I'll Never Get Back

Vanity URLs: 20 Minutes On Facebook I'll Never Get Back

I told myself that I wasn't going to do it. I wasn't going to stay up past midnight to try to grab a vanity URL on Facebook. After all, I have a 2-year-old who would certainly be waking me up bright and early, without remorse.

Then life happened... By the time people left my house after a very interesting game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals , it was 11:40 P.M., a mere 20 minutes away from the start of the land grab.

I actually fought the urge, got in bed and tried to fade away. But sleep was not meant to be. So I sat and waited, watching the countdown timer on Facebook, the one that suggested to the world that vanity URLs are more important than they actually are, tick down to the remaining seconds. All the while, I couldn't help but think, "Is this worth the 20 minutes?"

I wouldn't be lying if I told you that I clicked the link to create my own URL at 12:01:01 P.M.A.M. ET. My intent at this point was two-fold... If I was going to do this, I was going to do it right! Moreover, the faster I get this done, the faster I am back in bed.

First attempt: /daniel

Are you kidding me? Literally one second into this thing, and my first choice is gone! My only guess is that a Facebook developer shares my name.

Second attempt: /djacobson

It worked! My new facebook page is That was easier than expected. Larry Yu, a spokesman for Facebook, told Bloomberg that more than 200,000 vanity URLs were created in the first three minutes, averaging 550 per second. Despite this, I got my second choice. I checked Twitter and Facebook for other success stories and they seemed rampant. I could only surmise that either my friends and I are exceedingly fast on the social media front or that we are all big losers (or possibly both).

But was it worth it?

The purpose of the vanity URL is to have a nice and easy way to communicate to others how to find you on Facebook. Reflecting back on my time as a Facebook user, I have seldom been asked how I could be found on Facebook. In fact, I am more often found serendipitously by people, before I know they are looking for me. I would venture a guess that most of the people who have found me weren't even looking for me.

The vanity URL presumes that we will all start to share our Facebook page as a primary way to contact people, rather than things like email addresses or phone numbers. But when I meet someone new and want to keep in touch, am I more likely to hand out my email address or Facebook page? Uh... I don't think this one is even close!

Moreover, with Facebook Connect getting significant interest, if people want to hook up with friends or acquaintances, this seems the more likely path. Not to say that the vanity URL competes with Facebook Connect, they are just two different ways to find people. But the former requires people to remember something, while the latter does not.

So, the time saved with a new easy URL is, by my very crude estimation, almost nothing. But unfortunately, I can never get those 20 minutes back.