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June 17, 2009

My new Facebook username

Posted: 03:51 PM ET

At 12:00 a.m. Saturday, Facebook handily provided a second-by-second countdown for members waiting in anticipation to create a username. I know because I was signed in, of course. The social-networking giant had clearly anticipated that people like me would be standing by, worrying that someone else would beat us to our first choices. After all, more than 50,000 users indicated they "like" the announcement about the username feature.

As soon as the prompt popped up, I immediately typed in my choice (Hint: It's a variation on my name, containing the word "monster") and clicked the word "Available," hesitating briefly when Facebook informed me that this choice of username was irreversible. Was it available? YES! I went to sleep satisfied with my new identity, and with the knowledge that I had a unique URL pointing to my profile - almost like a personal Web site someone else had just designed for me.

Some people don't think usernames are so important, but as a relatively early participant in the online world I've put a lot of stock in them - so much that I have emotional attachments to certain names. In fact, since I first got an America Online account in 1996 (dial-up modem, pay per hour), I have created at least 16 different usernames for various online accounts.

At the end of the last century, I felt pretty secure with the usernames that I had created, as if they somehow belonged to me in a way that transcended the AOL welcome screen. These were my Internet identities and, in many cases, the only way that people out in the virtual world knew me. They were variations on my name or my interests, and no one else could send messages from them on AOL. My usernames defined me in several teenage and Jewish-themed chat rooms (not to mention the Star Trek role-playing chat room I got roped into joining a couple of times).

But today, AOL is no longer the dominant player in e-mail, and the same usernames I'd chosen for AOL weren't available anymore when I transitioned to other services such as Gmail. In fact, by the time I figured out that my cutesy screen names on AOL seemed less useful than firstname.lastname on Gmail, and had been claimed by others. Unless you sign up with a popular e-mail or social media service early, you may find yourself at a loss of how to represent yourself, because the identity you've always known and loved belongs to someone else.

There is something disconcerting about knowing that, while early in online circles I've stood behind the name "Bizzie," I am NOT "Bizzie" on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Flickr, or even In fact, I have no idea who those people are. Should I? Do we all have something in common? Is this yet another means of forging connections between total strangers around the world?

In any case, while the username feature on Facebook does open the doors to all kinds of bizarre monikers, drifting away from its traditional "real name" approach, the essential Facebook interface with all of your "real life" information is essentially the same. Plus, I like the bonus of having a personalized URL with a "monstrous" nickname that seems to keep reemerging partly because of social media.

What do you think about the Facebook username feature? Are you using your real name, or something totally different?

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Ubik   June 17th, 2009 6:30 pm ET

I think a username for Facebook is an improvement as it adds to your uniqueness in the system. There are plenty of people with my name out there on the internet – plenty on Facebook too – so having a unique username would help people find me if they remembered my username from other venues.

It also makes recognition of old internet friends quicker. I've been a member of this video game forum for years and I've known many of the regulars there by their username. When some of my forum buddies added me as a Friend on Facebook, I had no idea who they were. It took some research and a couple questions before I figured out who they were. If they tried to friend me after this username feature was added, I would have known right away who they were.

Jordan   June 17th, 2009 10:47 pm ET

I think that the usernames for Facebook is just another, unneeded and pointless change to a product that people like the way that it is. I dont buy the argument that it makes recognition easier. Facebook is not a buddy list. If you dont know someones real name, you probably shouldn't add them as a friend. There is no need to have the usernames, it is just another attempt by Mark Zuckerberg to copy twitter and make facebook more and more like twitter.

Glenn A. Scheyhing   June 17th, 2009 10:56 pm ET

I have not gone all-in just yet regarding a personalized username for my Facebook account. The idea of "permanent" caused a pause. Of course, I don't know what my username is now, but I think my choice for a personalized one will be around long enough for me to make a decision one way or the other. As far as a good idea for Facebook to offer - eh. That's about it.

Jacqui Odell   June 18th, 2009 3:28 am ET

I'm attempting both. On my main facebook profile, I use LifeWriter- my online persona. I created an author page to promote the book I am writing to raise awareness of child abuse, and as soon as that ticker counted down, I was there, ready to use my real name, but was politely informed I needed 1,000 fans, Sadly, my author page is only known by a random set of numbers which is very impersonal indeed! The second I get my 1,000 fans I will be using my real name. That is, of course, if it's still available. I have 26 fans, but am counting! I'm all for the usernames.

Scott   June 18th, 2009 8:45 am ET

Some people don't want to put their names online for the world to see.

I think this username feature is great. I won't be using it, but that doesn't mean others can't.

Skylar in MA   June 18th, 2009 9:11 am ET

Username was allowed as a mechanism for Facebook to make more money. Businesses, advertisers, etc can use a username.

Good for Facebook and perhaps some businesses, bad for what Facebook was created for... SOCIAL NETWORKING.

I want people to find ME on a social networking site, not some obscure user name... that's why I can't stand MySpace and went over to Facebook to begin with. As with everything, it's all about REVENUE!!

Charlene   June 18th, 2009 9:53 am ET

I wanted either my last name or first name, but both were taken by the time I got online the next morning. So, I used my whole name.

Kathy   June 18th, 2009 10:08 am ET

I debated on going "there" but before lunch on Saturday I signed in and Facebook had the reminder up that we could choose a user name. I decided that IF my firstname.lastname was available, I would secure it. It seldom is on other sites. But, there it was, available. I did not mind that it was permanent. After all, it is the first time I have been able to secure it on any site that wasn't a work email account.
So I have one, for all the good it does me. None of my "friends" have done so and my network is very small so the utility of the user name is suspect. But, for once, I have my user name of first choice.

Marshall Williams   June 18th, 2009 11:20 am ET

I jumped on and grabbed my screename for a URL and it was avalible. I felt no real hype to do it but I happened to be on when it when live. But for those tech geeks out there you may find it interesting that some have claimed names for their profiles like and

PiercedPsycho   June 18th, 2009 3:59 pm ET

I'm happy with my internet identity-it's never NOT available. I googled myself out of sheer boredom (and some curiosity) and the first several hits were all me. Every site I'm on, I have the same name.

ItsAllBusiness   June 22nd, 2009 4:25 pm ET

Doesn't matter what people think about this, it all comes down to cash flow. Anyone who thinks facebook's recent products are unnecessary and a waste, don't get a username. Facebook is a enormous website that consumes even more resources. It ranks 4th amongst ALL websites on the internet. That costs A LOT of money to run and maintain at a high speed. Currently, facebook's main revenue comes from their ads and I bet the revenue stream coming in from that vehicle is not doing the trick anymore. The usernames is a perfect way to generate extra revenue as more businesses will find it appealing to make a personalized page for their company. It might not be much, but it doesn't take much effort on FB's part to allow usernames. Unless facebook goes public (which I'm sure it will sometime), stop criticizing facebook.

Fernando   June 23rd, 2009 10:36 pm ET

I have a unique last name for the US, so I never have a problem getting the same username. Anyway, I created a fbook username for one reason: just to have it in case some random fool decided to swipe it from me. Did I really care for it? Nope.

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