Exclusive: Facebook Originally Planned To Auction Off Vanity URLs

Starting at 12:01 am Saturday morning, Facebook will allow its members to claim unique user names and their corresponding URL (facebook.com/username).

Earlier this week, we bopped Facebook for giving away a feature we figured they could have charged users and companies at least $5 a year for.

Turns out Facebook originally had a even more clever idea but dropped it. A source close to employees at the company says Facebook originally planned to auction off domain names.

We think this would have worked great. Normal users probably wouldn’t have to pay much if anything, and Facebook could have probably turned a nice buck from the competition over names like Facebook.com/BayAreaCars, not to mention just plain /Cars or /TV.

This also would have solved the land-rush problem Facebook is scrambling to fix, setting up early registration for journalists and companies with trademarks.

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