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Simpler Facebook URLs

Love it or loathe it, Facebook is the biggest social network on the planet right now. Of course it will be overtaken by something else at some (unspecified) point in the future. But currently if someone wants to link with me on a social network then the chances are that it will be Facebook.

The problem with Facebook[1] is that their URLs are horrible. If I want to send you the address of my Facebook profile then it’s http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=581570410 – which isn’t exactly memorable. And everyone else will also have an equally difficult to remember URL. It would be nice if I could have http://www.facebook.com/davorg or http://www.facebook.com/dave_cross but that would quickly run into problems with name clashes (I often join social networks that I’m not particularly interested in just to grab the ‘davorg’ username in case I want to use it later).

So what can we do to make it easier to swap Facebook addresses with each other. We can’t change Facebook’s URL structure. But many of us do have domains that we can control. So here’s what I did.

I’ve set up a redirection in my domain so that the URL http://dave.org.uk/facebook will send you to my Facebook profile. For those of you that aren’t familar with Apache’s redirection feature, I did that by creating a .htaccess file in the top level of my web server’s document root and putting in it this line:

RedirectPermanent /facebook     http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=581570410

Actually, as many of the people I want to share it with are Perl programmers and Perl programmers hate excessive typing, I also added this line:

RedirectPermanent /fb   http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=581570410

Now it’s easy to share my Facebook address with anyone else. I’ve just replaced a hard to remember URL with one that is I’m far more likely to remember. It’s a bit like using a service like TinyURL to shorten a URL and giving it a memorable name.

Now, I’m wondering if there’s any mileage in a specialised “name to Facebook” directory service.

[1] Ok, strictly speaking one of the problems with Facebook…

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