A few weeks ago, a reader emailed me with a question, “I’m asking myself if businesses are abandoning their websites for a facebook page. Maybe not for an ecommerce site but for a small and medium “brochure” type website, why not just go with facebook? ” As I was about to write an article to discuss this, Mike Berkens had a post that touched on this topic.
It seems that many companies have been using and actively promoting Facebook and Twitter accounts with vanity urls that contain their brand names. I personally never liked the idea of ceding control of your url, which has been done by companies like Best Buy with their Twitter Twelpforce and TGI Friday’s with their Facebook FanWoody campaign.
Today, I read an article on TechCrunch about Facebook revoking the vanity url, http://www.facebook.com/harmon, used by one of its users, Harmon Bajwa. The company allegedly sold it to another company named Harman International, who wanted it for a campaign, supposedly in conjunction with the Grammy Awards.
Imagine that your small company shares its name with a Fortune 500 company – or even shares a name with a F500 company’s brand. It doesn’t appear that there would be anything to stop Facebook or maybe even Twitter from taking your url and selling or giving it to another company.
With a domain name, another company could still try to get it by filing a UDRP dispute (or lawsuit), but there are mechanisms in place to prevent a person or company from simply having the domain name taken from them.
This looks really bad for Facebook, and it’s a good reason why smaller companies and individuals should really think about whether they want to give up control of their address online.