Facebook is getting wise to something MySpace has known from the start – users love vanity URLs. When you tell someone your MySpace page, you just say myspace.com/[user/brand/band/etc.] (I’m myspace.com/mikearrington). On Facebook it has always been more difficult.
My profile isn’t Facebook .com/michaelarrington, it’s facebook.com/profile.php?id=500065899. Not so catchy, and the result is people need to do searches to find you. MySpace vanity URLs are popular for the same reason people like domain names instead of just typing in IP addresses.
Facebook’s policy on this is clearly changing, at least for Pages (where bands, celebrities, brands, etc. have their Facebook presence). Facebook has always had a few vanity URLs associated with Pages, like Facebook.com/U2. They made it clear last August, though, that most people couldn’t get them:
Unfortunately we are not currently able to approve requests for vanity URLs. The only Pages that presently have vanity URLs are bands and businesses that partnered with us for the initial launch of this new product. We hope to make these URLs available for everyone to have on their individual Page(s) in the future. When this feature is available, we will provide instructions on how to obtain a vanity URL at http://www.facebook.com/help.php?page=60. We apologize for any inconvenience in the mean time.
Now, though, Facebook seems to be letting more people have vanity URLs. Kevin Rose celebrated getting one earlier today, for example. Ashton Kutcher also has one, as does Demi Moore. The TechCrunch Page, alas, does not (hover over that link, whoa).