Facebook employees and tech journalists aren't the only ones whose names have been reserved ahead of the big Facebook vanity URL land grab that will open up at midnight Eastern time Saturday morning. The company already has "tens of thousands" of business names and terms on its restricted list, waiting to be assigned, Facebook spokesperson Larry Yu told me.
Also on the list: Generic terms and obscenities that will never be used.
Unlike the simple process to grab a user name as a vanity Facebook URL--go to www.facebook.com/username and hope for the best--the procedure for nabbing a business or trade name involves two steps. First, a business can request that a term be put on the restricted list so a user can't grab it for their vanity URL. Facebook is currently building this list based on input from this form and terms it's put on the list itself. Getting the term on the restricted list doesn't assign it to anyone, but it does prevent a user from grabbing it in the midnight land rush. To put a name on the restricted list go to this form.
Second, once the vanity URLs become available, you can request a name from the restricted list for your Facebook URL. Facebook won't give those names out to just anyone who asks. Companies may be asked to prove legal right to use a name or mark before they get it.
Some of the "edge cases" for name conflict resolution have not been resolved yet. For example, it doesn't necessarily matter who put a name on the restricted list. If another company with the same name requests the URL first, it may get it. "It's first come, first served," said Yu, who said also that, "we don't know the scale of potential conflicts."
I predict plenty, because just as there are many people who have the same name, there are many businesses that share the same names and that are perfectly non-competing due to geographic separation. There's probably more than one Joe's Flowers, for example, so who gets Facebook.com/joesflowers?
"There have been some anxious exchanges," Yu told me.
The best advice we have for business owners, given the confusion that we predict will overwhelm Facebook come Saturday morning: if you want a Facebook URL, get in line with the rest of the people to try to grab your domain name on Saturday morning (Friday night West Coast time).
But I also feel it necessary to remind business owners of two things: the best Internet presence is your own Web site, not a spur off a social network. Get that first. And remember that whether you have a vanity URL on Facebook or not, people will still be able to find you there using their favorite search engines.
For more about personal Facebook URLs, see A users' guide to personalizing your Facebook URL,
I should also disclose that I am one of the journalists that Facebook reserved a URL for.