02|22|2012 08:20 am EDT
Recently we’ve seen more and more companies use Facebook URLs in their advertising. While other marketers, and also of course domainers, are against the practice, it appears this is now a more relevant question. Facebook recently took the URL facebook.com/muenchen away from the official city portal and reserved it for their own use.
Facebook URLs – Yours today, gone tomorrow? Facebook is planning to create city portals
As German news-site Heise Online reported Facebook apparently took away the URL facebook.com/muenchen from the official portal of the city Munich (Muenchen in German) first citing technical difficulties as the reason. For more than a week the Facebook page has not been reachable under its old address.
The page had gathered almost 400,000 fans according to Lajos Csery, who is the manager of the company operating the city portal. In an interview with Bayerischer Rundfunk, he stated that there had been no advance notice from Facebook and when they inquired about the issue they were told that there was a technical issue. Later on they found out that Facebook is planning to set up their own city portals and Facebook has now moved the page to facebook.com/Stadtportal.Muenchen (city portal Munich), which so far only has about 1,200 “likes”. Facebook told the operator that the “fans” will still be moved to the new page. City names without additions are no longer permitted as Facebook URL names according to the recently changed rules of Facebook.
In a similar story pharmaceutical company Merck sued Facebook, in order to receive information why “their” Facebook URL to a US company with the same name. According to the BBC, Facebook had cut a deal with the company but had not followed through with giving the company the URL.
As Facebook becomes an important marketing tool and usernames and vanity URLs become more coveted, you can be sure that Facebook will find a way to monetize on this. Savvy marketers should be more and more wary of using these URLs in offline marketing and protect themselves for the possibility that “their” Facebook URL will be taken away too.