Categories
Social Action social media youth ministry

Tunisia, Facebook, Privacy, and Freedom

Most youth workers have developed a Facebook apologetic. That is to say, they know how to respond and argue for Facebook usage to engage with and interact with their students.

One component of Facebook, which causes heart palpitations for adults, is that it is a place of dissidence and venting. And the motivating reason that adults see their blood pressure elevated about these activities is that they are either the object of said dissidence/venting or they are asked to clean up the mess created online.

As a result, some parents and other caring adults use that as a case for Facebook being banned. (Which, as human nature dictates, just means adolescents find another place to carry out dissidence and venting. It is just taken off of the adult radar and disappears into adolescent-world. But you can safely imagine a William Wallace-like response, “You can take our Facebook, but you can never have our phones!“)

Allow me to introduce to you a story from The Atlantic, which puts this into context:

Expert analysts of the country couldn’t tell if Ben Ali would remain in power for a few more weeks or a decade. It did not feel inevitable that Ben Ali would be deposed. People had protested in the streets before. Revolution had been in the air. It wasn’t clear that this time would be different.

There has been a lot of debate about whether Twitter helped unleash the massive changes that led Ben Ali to leave office on January 14, but Facebook appears to have played a more important role in spreading dissent.

Imagine you are Ben Ali. You are the unpopular leader of Tunisia. You are an oppressor of freedoms. And you hear rumors that you may be deposed of your power.

In youth ministry language– the youth pastor hears that his students are bad mouthing him on Facebook. And they’ve engaged with enough adults in the church that you might get fired.

So what does Ben Ali do? He had long ago banned YouTube and other video sharing sites… but all of a sudden he discovers that hundreds of thousands of Tunisians are flocking to Facebook, networking, and sharing videos which document the terrors of his rule.

While clashes with security forces took place in the streets, Rim, who asked we not use her last name, was in her bed in her apartment in Tunis. Like the blogger cliché, Rim sat in her pajamas sharing videos. In her hands, small protests that reached 50 people could suddenly reach another 50, who would share it with another 50. The idea that it might be time for the regime to change spread from city to city faster than street protests and even middle class places got involved.

“There were rumors that Facebook or electricity was going to be shut down,” Rim IM’d me from Tunis. “Or both.”

Did you get that? It was either shut down the electricity or shut down Facebook. But Ben Ali’s plan was more devious.

After more than ten days of intensive investigation and study, Facebook’s security team realized something very, very bad was going on. The country’s Internet service providers were running a malicious piece of code that was recording users’ login information when they went to sites like Facebook.

By January 5, it was clear that an entire country’s worth of passwords were in the process of being stolen right in the midst of the greatest political upheaval in two decades. Sullivan and his team decided they needed a country-level solution — and fast.

Instead of just shutting down Facebook, Ben Ali had ordered that the very tool being used to create dissidence be used as a tool of the government to capture personal information.

Facebook, the company with access to 800 million users personal information, had to make a moral decision. Was it going to get involved in support of a dictators withholding the reigns of power from the people of Tunisia by doing nothing? Or was it going to spur on political revolution by protecting their core values?

They chose the latter. And, as we know now, their was a change in leadership in Tunisia.

At Facebook, Sullivan’s team decided to take an apolitical approach to the problem. This was simply a hack that required a technical response. “At its core, from our standpoint, it’s a security issue around passwords and making sure that we protect the integrity of passwords and accounts,” he said. “It was very much a black and white security issue and less of a political issue.”

The software was basically a country-level keystroke logger, with the passwords presumably being fed from the ISPs to the Ben Ali regime. As a user, you just logged into some part of the cloud, Facebook or your email, say, and it snatched up that information. If you stayed persistently logged in, you were safe. It was those who logged out and came back that were open to the attack.

Read the rest at The Atlantic

What does this have to do with youth ministry?

I don’t know. Nothing and everything at the same time.

I think a lot of adults feel teenage angst more than teenagers do. Deep down we believe that it is our role to save teenagers from themselves by putting up boundaries and barriers. At the same time we acknowledge that they carry the hope of the world forward in living out the Gospel in ways and to levels that our generation has failed.

Instead of focusing our attention on somehow asking our students to be saved from the world, perhaps we need to focus on teaching them how to take over the world and lead it in a way which acts on their Jesus-influenced convictions?

Categories
Social Action social media

Stupid Forms of Activism

Stupid Forms of Activism by Adam McLane

I don’t care what color your bra is.

And I really don’t care who your favorite cartoon character was as a kid. Nor do I care about a twibbon.

And yet these meme‘s make their way through social media sites over and over again as if they made a lick of difference. “You just have to do this, it’ll raise awareness about ____.

Don’t kid yourself. Changing your avatar or posting a one word Facebook profile status update isn’t changing the world or raising awareness. It’s just clutter.

Passive activism never works.

You want to change things? You want to be an activist?

Activism is by nature… active.

Speak out. Act out. Write out. Video out. Stand out. Get out. Stand out. Jump out.

There is a whole world full of worthy causes to activate people about. And God may be calling you to be that voice for that cause. So do it.

But don’t fall into the trap of passive activism. Be bold, loud, proud, a pain in the neck, a thorn in their flesh, a force to be reckoned with. Stick it to the man. Get kicked out of school. Live in a tree. Whatever it takes.

Just don’t ask people to change their avatar. Ask them to give money. Go to the place you are trying to make a difference and make a video to activate resources and your friends. Ask them to join you actively in a movement.

If you ask people to do something passive for your cause they will do something passive for your cause.

Categories
social media Web/Tech

How to adjust privacy settings for Facebook Places

What is it?

Facebook describes it this way:

Places is a Facebook feature that allows you to see where your friends are and share your location in the real world. When you use Places, you’ll be able to see if any of your friends are currently checked in nearby and connect with them easily. You can check into nearby Places to tell your friends where you are, tag your friends in the Places you visit, and view comments your friends have made about the Places you visit. Use Places to experience connecting with people on Facebook in a completely new way. link

In other words, its a bigger and instantly more popular version of Fourquare, Gowalla, and Yelp. With 97 million American teenagers owning a mobile phone, this has the potential to be huge.

Facebook has a very well done FAQ are for Places, I’d recommend checking it out and educating yourself.

How to Adjust Privacy Settings

For most people, your default settings are going to be fine. By default, you can use a mobile device to tell your friends where you are at. Additionally, by default you are allowing Facebook to point you to other people who are checked in at the same place.

For people into social networking, this is fine. I actually like that if I check-in at Starbucks I can know who else is there because I might actually like to have a conversation with them. It doesn’t creep me out that I could check-in at Ikea and 20 other people in Ikea who aren’t my friends could know I’m there.

But a good majority of people don’t use Facebook for social networking. They use it for existing friend connections. In other words, while Facebook is designed to help you expand your network by meeting new people, there are tons of people who want to “protect their privacy” and not network with anyone outside of people they know if real life.

That’s a personal choice and Facebook allows for that. (Even though its outside of the original design of Facebook, they’ve made concessions.)

Now, let’s adjust those settings!

Step one: Go to the Privacy Settings tab in your account settings. Here’s the link. This is an overview of all of your general settings.

Step two: Click on “Customize Settings.

Step three: Scroll down to “Places I Check In To” and click “Customize.” This will bring up a box where you can select exactly who you want to see where you check in at. If you just want to play with it to get used to it, but don’t want other people to see it, change it to “Only Me.” Changing it to “Only Me” is as private as it gets if you want to check in places. You’ll notice you can also block specific people from seeing where you check in at. Think about who you want to block specifically and list them there. When you are done click “Save Setting” and you are done with this step.

Step four: Enable or disable the “Here Now” feature. If this whole thing creeps you out, I’d suggest disabling this setting. But also keep in mind that if you want any of the cool freebies that retailers/restaurants may come up with for checking it, you’ll need to keep this enabled. (I’ve gotten plenty of free stuff by checking in via Yelp and even Twitter.)

Step five: Scroll down to “Friends can check me in to Places.This is probably the feature that will get the most people in trouble and will make people the most angry. Say you sit down for lunch at work with a co-worker. You check in and you tag that person as being with you. Now, if you didn’t have that persons permission, all of their friends know that they have checked in at a place because that check in posts to their wall. Also, if they haven’t adjusted their settings in step four, now anyone on Facebook at that location can know they are there. On the other hand, if you feel good about your selections on step three than this is no big deal.

Done. You can go back to your profile, having adjusted your Places privacy settings to your liking.

What does Adam recommend?

Bear in mind that I’m a pretty open person. But I still value some levels of privacy, particularly because I’m a husband and father. Truth is, I don’t even anticipate using this feature unless I’m somewhere cool and want to brag that I am there.

Here’s my selections for the steps above:

Step three: I’ve selected “friends only.” I do wish I could select by groups of people. Because I have a friend group labeled “People I Haven’t Met Yet” and I’d prefer that they couldn’t see my location. But until Facebook fixes that, I’m going with “friends only. UPDATE: If you have a friend group you’d like to exclude from your check-ins, you can just type them in the field “Hide this from these people:Here’s what it looks like on my privacy settings page.  I’d recommend NOT choosing “friends of friends” because that basically opens up your location to anyone in the world.

Step four: I’m a big fan of getting free stuff. So I’m keeping this enabled because it doesn’t bug me and I’ve enjoyed many a free meal. There will soon be lots of iPhone applications that call to this so I want to see where it goes.

Step five: I feel pretty good about step three. And I also feel pretty good about the places I go and the people I go to them with. So I’m going to keep this enabled for now. Let me tell you though, if someone false checks me in somewhere shady and we’re going to talk. This little feature is going to land a whole heap of people in a whole heap of mess. So, if you aren’t sure about all of your friends, I’d recommend disabling this one.

Some Places Etiquette

  1. Never, ever, EVER check-in at home. I want to hit people in the shins with a hammer when I see that. Not only are you broadcasting to people where you live, complete with Google Maps directions, you are also telling people that you are home… and when you check-in someplace else, you are tell them YOU AREN’T HOME! Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.
  2. Only check-in at public places. Just like it’s dumb to check-in at your house, it’s really rude to check in at your friends houses. Checking in at a private residence is rude, even if the person says they don’t care. Just don’t do it.
  3. Always ask before checking in your friends. It’s just polite. Maybe they don’t want their friends knowing they had a latte while at work? Just ask.
  4. Check-in sparingly. I know it feels like a game. And games are meant to be won, right? But if you check-in to places 20 times a day you look really, really lonely. My rule is that I only want to check-in places that I think are cool. Sea World? Cool. The local gas station? Not cool. Since I like tiny, family-run businesses… I’m going to check-in at a lot of those because I know it helps them out. I think mom and pops are cool.
  5. Be weary of promotions. With 500 million users and integration into Google Maps retailers are going to go nuts trying to get you to check-in. (As a Google Adwords user, let me tell you… Google is going after us to do promotions!) Don’t be surprised to see deals popping up everywhere. A check-in deal is fine to me. But if I have to tag a bunch of people or write a specific status update to save $5… that’s too far. Don’t subject your friends to that.
  6. Never check-in anywhere after 10:00 PM. Remember when mom said that nothing good happens after 10 PM? If you are out with your friends, it is just better to not check-in. Nothing good is going to come of it.
  7. Remember: Everything you post online is public! All check-ins, all that GPS data, all those tags, all those status updates… they are ultimately public information. You parents can see it. Your boss can see it. The college admissions office can see it. Your significant other can see it. Your future mates can see it. Your children will be able to see it. Even if you’ve made all of your settings private, that data all ultimately belongs to Facebook and they can do with it whatever they want. (And it could always get stolen from them!) If you don’t want those people to see it… don’t post it.
Categories
social media

5 Types of Engagement With Each Blog Post

I’m an engagement preacher. No other stat matters in social media quite as much as engagement. Likes, Retweets, Trackbacks, Comments. These are the things that show that your content isn’t just getting read– it’s getting shared.

Here are five ways each of my blog posts is engaged with.

  1. Comments (On the blog itself, on Facebook, and on Twitter)
  2. Facebook like and shares (I have a limited reach. But through my reach I have unlimited viral capabilities.)
  3. Twitter links and retweets (Did someone like you post enough to post on their Twitter account? Did anyone retweet the link?)
  4. Private discussion (I get a lot of e-mails, Twitter direct messages, and Facebook messages with each blog post. I even tally the number of times people see me in person and mention something I’ve written. That’s all engagement.)
  5. Blog excerpts (Getting a paragraph pulled from a post and having it create content for another blogger/online magazine is awesome engagement. It’s like an annotated recommendation.)

What are ways you engage with your audience?

Categories
Web/Tech

The internet & privacy

Photo by Will Lion via Flickr (creative commons)

Lately there has been a lot of angst about internet privacy. This came to a head when Facebook changed some privacy settings which angered some users who believed that they had a right to privacy with stuff they shared on the site. Some folks ever started a movement called QuitFacebookDay.com over it.

As a person who does internet development, a long time blogger, and someone who “gets the internet,” I just wanted to give you a reality check.

You don’t have privacy, anywhere. If you think you do– you have never read those little contracts you sign, user agreements that you click “yes” to in order to use sites or software, nor read a single privacy policy on nearly every commercial website on the planet.

I don’t want to scare you, but here is a snapshot of the data “we the internet people” collect from you every single day. We don’t do much with this… but we collect this information:

  • Every time you Google something, Google logs that. They know what you search, what you clicked on– Google is, by far, the largest repository of user data anywhere.
  • Every time you make a phone call, your cell phone company knows who you called, where you called from, and how long you talked.
  • If you have a GPS enabled smart phone, your cell phone company knows your exact location any time its turned on whether you are actively using it or not.
  • Your IP and MAC addresses are logged by every website you’ve ever visited. The sites servers know how many times you’ve been there, how long you stayed, and what you looked at. Even free Google Analytics tools can show any website owner this information.
  • Everything you post on Twitter or Facebook (or WordPress or Blogger) belongs to them, not you. Since it is their property they can do whatever they want with it. Every message, every picture, everything you like, everything you direct message.
  • Any time you purchase something from an online retailer, they collect even more information. They know that other stuff about your browsing history, plus they know what you buy, how often you buy, your shipping and billing address, what category of stuff you like to look at, on and on. The only part of the transaction that they can’t really do anything with is your credit card number.
  • If you store documents online, an administrator could access that information, if they wanted or needed to.

If you don’t see https: (the “s” means that the area of the site is certified as secure by someone like VeriSign. Of course, certified and verified as such are two different things.) in the address bar, you shouldn’t have any perception of privacy.

Whatever you do online is somehow public

What is interesting to me about the privacy concerns is that the stuff that people are worried about– is typically happening in real life! Don’t want future employers to see you dancing on a table while intoxicated? Sheesh, don’t blame Facebook for that, blame your drunk self! Don’t want one group of people to know something about you? Don’t talk about it on Twitter!

The irony of the privacy concerns is that people have willingly agreed to the terms of service and have willingly posted content to websites that they now don’t want put in the public.

It makes me gigle. No one ever told you this was private, you just thought it was.

There is no such thing as “internet privacy.

It’s about ethics

As a web developer, you need to know how much value that 99% of website owners put on this data. If a sites privacy policy says they won’t share that information– 99% of organizations won’t. Their reputation is on the line. And there are plenty of watchdogs and lawyers all to happy to create legal grief for those who violate their privacy policies.

Companies may (and most do) use it for their own purposes as outlined in the privacy policy. The funny part is that collecting and learning from this information makes you love most sites instead of loathe them. Most people like it that iTunes or Amazon.com “gets to know their preferences” and make recommendations to you. Statistics show you are much more likely to click on, and buy from, advertisers who target their ads to your preferences. If you are called to appear in court, you’d be happy to know that your cell phone can provide an alibi.

The opposite of compartmentalism

When I was a high school student, youth pastors preached about the ills of compartmentalism all the time. The irony is that todays privacy-free society has those same people crying for just a little compartmentalization!

Fair Warning

My recommendation is not to flee. It’s to live an honest and transparent life. If you live in a way where you have nothing to hide than your level of privacy is rather innocuous.

But the opposite is also true, as well. If you are going places you ought not go or doing things you know are naughty… you are just building up the evidence against yourself. Somewhere someone already knows. And everything you are doing leaves a breadcrumb to your future embarrassment.

Categories
social media

How to add the Facebook “like” button to the Thesis WordPress theme

Earlier this week I started noticing the Facebook “like” button popping up on some of my favorite sites. And then, my co-worker Jonathan installed it on our site at work.

When I saw that… I knew I had to have it on my blog. Plus I knew I had to master it for some of my McLane Creative clients.

It took some fiddling around but here is how I’ve gotten it to work. Follow these steps and you can set it up in about 10 minutes.

Please note: These instructions are for the Thesis theme for WordPress. If you’re looking for a completely customized WordPress theme you can build yourself, I recommend purchasing Thesis.

Step 1: Download and install the free Thesis OpenHook plugin.

Step 2: After activating the plugin, go to the settings link for Thesis OpenHook. On my blog it looks like “/wp-admin/themes.php?page=thesis-openhook/options.php”

Step 3: Scroll down to the hook you’d like to install the code at. I’m using “after post.” But here’s a list of all the hooks and what they are.

Step 4: Paste the following code into the hook you’d like use.

Step 5: Click the checkbox “Execute PHP on this hook.” This is important, you will get an error if you don’t click this checkbox!

Step 6: Press the “Little save button.

Step 7: Like and retweet this post, telling everyone what a swell guy I am.

Bonus:As you can see I’ve also added a couple Tweetmeme buttons to the same location. You can download my code for that, just put your Twitter name in the [twitter_user_name] spot and you’re good to go.

Click here to download –> [download id=”6″]

Categories
social media

Measuring Success in Social Media

I laugh when I see the term, “social media expert. Let’s be honest. It’s an emerging field and the only thing that makes someone an expert is that they have labeled themselves as such and they read Mashable and Seth Godin.

With that in mind, I’ll just point out that for the last two years I’ve gotten paid to handle social media. I don’t know if that makes me an expert in the field, but it does mean that I’m employed in the field. (And I read Mashable and Seth Godin just for good measure.)

So, how do I measure success?

False positives

  • Size of following. Having 25,000 followers on Twitter or 10,000 fans of your Facebook page doesn’t mean jack.
  • Contest excitement. I love hosting contests as much as the next guy, but hosting a big contest doesn’t mean jack.
  • Being active. Utilizing the tools of social media is important, but just showing up doesn’t mean jack.
  • Atta boys. [Or atta girls] When you first get started everyone in your organization will be excited, but that doesn’t mean jack.
  • Sales or lead generation. This may make the boss happy, but in most cases it doesn’t mean jack.

True positives

  • Engagement. Are your followers, fans, subscribers listening to the stuff you send out in a measurable way? Do they click on links you recommend? Do they comment on stuff you post? Do they open the emails you send? Having a large following is only as valuable as your ability to engage those people. Otherwise, your just another message they are ignoring. I’d rather have 100 engaged Twitter followers than 25,000 who ignore me. What to measure: comments, likes, open rates, click rates, number of clicks, mentions on fan/followers feeds.
  • Users who contribute. Is your effort a two-way conversation? Traditional marketing is about pushing a message. Social media is about pulling a response. It’s shocking to me how many organizations have large followings but only push. And they wonder why they think their social media efforts are a waste of money? They are! What to measure: Submissions, Facebook messages, Twitter direct messages, unsolicited or solicited ideas.
  • Repeaters. This post is the perfect example. When I press publish on this blog post, my own network will draw a couple hundred visitors. But this post will be read several thousand times in just 7 days. How did that happen? Repeaters. What to measure: Facebook shares, Twitter retweets, add-to-this analytics, trackbacks, blog posts about your content/product/service.
Categories
social media

5 Free Business Tips for Facebook Pages

facebook-for-business

How do I use Facebook to enhance my company, church, organization, or club?

As a person who utilizes Facebook in the repetoir of how I make my living, I get this question a lot. With hundreds of millions of Facebook users out there, and huge growth in the adult demographic, it makes sense for people to shift marketing efforts to Facebook. The trick is doing it without looking like an idiot.

What do you recommend? Here are my  5 things with Facebook. It’ll be the best marketing you can do in the next 1 hour, trust me. Just like anything else… nail the basics and everything else is just gravy.

Preamble: You need a page, not a group. If you only have a group right now… go create a page. Facebook is not investing in making the group experience better. All of their efforts for businesses are focused on pages.

1. Secure your URL. Once your page has 100 fans, you can go to facebook.com/username and secure a unique URL. This will help you on a lot of fronts. First, it’s easy to remember. Tell people, “Like our product? Become a fan on Facebook at Facebook.com/yourcompany.” I’m seeing this everywhere! I was at a golf course a couple weeks back that had a fan page. Hotels have it. Designers have it. Even dive bars have fan pages. Second, this helps your company on the Google front as well. It’ll make it easier for people looking for you and your products to find you… not your competitor. If you are a company that has brands/products it’s a good idea to also add a fan page for your top products.

2. Add FBML. With the page application FBML, you’ll be able to build a landing page for your fans. Here’s an example of mine from Youth Specialties. Here’s another one from Coke. FBML allows you to design HTML code and drop it into your page as a tab. Then in the page settings you can select which tab is the default landing page. With both the Coke and YS pages you see that it introduces the brand and products pretty strongly, right away. If you aren’t a web guru, I’d still add FBML and have your web designer pimp it out. (Or send me $500 and I’ll do it for you.)

3. Embed video or audio. Up until recently, Facebook has not allowed applications like FBML to embed stuff. It basically stripped out <embed> and <script> tags in the coding. But if your brand has some great audio/video that you think could help you sell your products, here’s a little hack.

Bear in mind you need to host these files on your own host, but that’s cheap and easy enough.

For video, you can embed FLV files using this code: <fb:flv src="Flash_Video_URL" height="###" width="###"/>

For audio, you can embed MP3 files using this code: <fb:mp3 src="URL HERE" height="###" width="###" artist="artist" title="title" album="picture"/>

That may not be a beginners option, but if you can pull it off it looks fantastic!

4. Connect your company website/blog to your Facebook page. If your website was designed in the last 3-4 years it probably has RSS feeds. It’s simple and easy to import an RSS feed from your website onto your page. Here’s the link.

5. Add your Facebook page Fan Box to your company website or blog. Complete the circle. You are sending your content to Facebook, allow your customers to see your precense on Facebook from your website.

That’s it. Those are the basics. Nail those 5 things down and you are off to a good start. In fact, I wouldn’t add much else to a Facebook page. Just make sure to update your status from time to time.

Categories
hmm... thoughts social media

Facebook Morphs Blogging Again

adam-head-09-100px-squareBlogging, by very nature, is a fluid art. Just a few years ago I thought I was pretty slick because I could journal on my computer using Microsoft Word. Flash forward a few years, to around 2000, and I learned that I could take those Word documents and convert them to webpages. It was cumbersome and I didn’t do it very often… but it was awesome. Then Blogger.com took “the web log” out of the hands of the HTML king and made blogging accessible to just about anyone willing to give it a shot. I was fasinated that I could link to friends blogs and that we could leave comments for one anothers posts. A few years later, 2005-2006 and Typepad and WordPress suddenly made it possible for blogs to live on their own domain easily.

In 2007-2008, blogging became all about search and syndication. I started seeing my stats level off while I could tell my reach greatly extended. RSS (really simple syndication) made my content portable and SEO (search engine optimization) got my blog noticed high in Google search results.

facebook2009 has seen blogging morph again. Facebook’s power in the adult demographic has brought blog syndication to a whole new level. Now my posts appear on my Facebook friend’s timeline, so a whole new audience of people has been added to the pool of people who read my blog. When they comment that ends up on their friends timeline, which greatly expands the pool of people reading and commenting on my stuff. (Though there isn’t yet a matrix for this so that’s a bit frustrating.) In the past few months I’ve run into tons of people who read my blog and I have no idea who they are or how they got here… but it’s awesome!

More noticeably, in the past few months I’ve noticed a steep uptick in folks who read my blog posts exclusively on Facebook and comment there as well. Often times, I’m left with a post which generates two separate conversations. Which is really cool! On top of that, Twitter has further expanded my blogs discussion and reach. While there is some overlap, Twitter is mostly a different audience for my content.

Wagon_WheelGoing forward, adammclane.com is now and will continue to be the hub of my online presence. It feeds RSS, search results, Facebook, and Twitter. I think of the personal blog as the engine that powers everything else. That said, my recommendation for beginners has begun to morph. You can certainly do the same thing with a WordPress.com blog (free) or even a Facebook account.

And since I know about 75% of the people who are reading this post will never make it to adammclane.com, here are some ways we can connect. We can be Facebook friends. You can follow me on Twitter. We can pool links on delicious. You can be a contact on Flickr. You can subscribe to my blog via RSS. But you can’t be my Myspace friend. That’s so 2005.

Categories
social media

Facebook Land Grab

FaceBook-256x256Last night’s chaos on Facebook was a fascinating display of “why not to be afraid of internet rumors.Millions of people anxiously waited online staring at facebook.com/username/ hoping that they could register their name as a vanity URL. I participated in a lively chat on Mashable last night, there was a lot of anxiety, silliness, and even some worry leading up to the big moment. Would the site crash? Would people be able to get their URLs?

I’m a social media junkie and I needed to make sure that I was a part of it. Plus, I needed to make sure I secured two page names for YS that were eligible.

Think about the rules for a second and you’ll realize why it was silly to be in a panic:

– Each individual could name their account one URL. Most people are going to take their name or their Twitter handle or a knickname. Since the URL isn’t transferrable (like website names are) and you can’t ever change it. Unless your name is really popular you don’t have much to worry about.

– Pages with more than 1,000 fans could name their eligible fan page one URL. Think about it. That’s a lot of fans. (Probably 1% of pages) What do you think they are going to select? The name of their group/company/band or say… facebook.com/Kroger.

– Any trademark holder was invited to come early and protect their trademarks. This was done to prevent individuals from naming their accounts facebook.com/Lakers

– Behind the scenes Facebook handled URLs and redirects for major companies, bloggers, and celebrities. This prevented people from squatting on accounts for people like Ashton Kutcher, Miley Cyrus, and CNN.

Of course that doesn’t mean there isn’t some controversy out there. Over then next few weeks some awesome squatting will come to light. My favorite one so far is facebook.com/Barack. Well done Tomas, well done. Certainly there will be some squatting. But since the URL can’t be sold, transfered or even gifted… there really isn’t a benefit to squatting on someone’s URL.

For those of us who live in an “under 1000 fans” world, the next land grab is 6/28. That’s when Facebook opens up vanity URLs to groups, causes, and smaller pages. There wasn’t much chaos created last night. The real damage comes 6/28.