Here's a quick primer, in the hope it'll help someone, somewhere, sometime...
Word of warning: if you're trying to learn how to transfer a Facebook username between Facebook accounts, I can't help. Facebook's docs say quite clearly that it can't be done.
The Problem: transfer a FB username within an account
profile) on Facebook for some time now. Along with 800,000,000 others as of this post's timestamp. When Facebook first permitted folks to set a "username" in June 2009 -- a personalized URL to point to my presence on Facebook -- I jumped to claim stevemasover as soon as I could. I figured it beats numeric gibberish hands down.
Then I decided to create a Facebook Page. I'm preparing to have a Facebook presence as an author, for that golden moment when my novel mss. Consequence is published ... or perhaps sooner -- e.g., should I decide to self-publish short fiction in e-book formats, including those of my stories that have appeared in small literary magazines that are now difficult or impossible for readers to find.
It's pretty clear that stevemasover is the best personalized URL for my author page ... it's the name under which I publish, and if a reader were looking for me that's the name she'd seek. It doesn't matter so much what I use for a personal Facebook username: if you're a friend in analog life, it's not hard to find me.
The thing is, I couldn't assign stevemasover to my new Author page because the username was already taken. By me, yes, but username juggling turns out to be more complicated than I hoped.
Facebook usernames are 'personalized' URLs for your presence on Facebook -- either your personal account, or for Facebook Pages you own/administer. General information in FAQ form can be found in the Facebook Help Center.
There are a number of strict limits on picking usernames, mostly to avoid "username squatting" -- a term that refers to creating a username as a form of digital land grab. Facebook is also careful to preclude development of a secondary market in usernames similar to the market in domain names made possible by "cybersquatting" (domain squatting). Fair enough. Mark Zuckerberg and crew are encouraging good behavior here.
Here are some of the rules:
- If you don't like your username for your main (personal) account/profile, you can change it ... but only once.
- You can't ever transfer a username from one account to another.
- A username is meant to clearly and honestly identify the person or page with which it is associated. If Facebook thinks you're squatting on a username, or using it deceptively, or doing any other bad thing with it, they reserve the right to remove or reclaim it.
I wanted to transfer my username, stevemasover, within my account: the author page I created is owned by the same account I use for my personal profile. I was not able to find explicit statements in the Facebook Help Center that one is permitted to do this, perhaps because the company doesn't want to encourage username juggling.
The solution that didn't seem to work ... until it did
I did find a thread on a Facebook Page run by Custom Fanpage Templates (a business external to Facebook) that described a number of users' experience doing just what I wanted: to transfer a username from a profile to a page within the same account. There was a caveat. Many experienced delays, not all for the same duration; and sometimes, some reported, the transfer doesn't work at all. In general, the users on this thread reported, on attempting to effect the change Facebook initially responds with a message that the username in question is not available for assignment to the page. But after some number of days the transfer is allowed. Usually.
I gave it a shot, and my experience mirrored those of other users. I didn't do a good job of counting, I'm afraid, but it was something on the order of nine to twelve days that I had to wait.
Here's the recipe, using my own username as an example. The assumption here is that you already have a personal account with a username assigned, and want to reassign the username to a Page owned by the same account.
- Release the username that you want to transfer by changing it to something else. In my case, I changed my personal profile's username from stevemasover to another variant of my name. Remember, you only get one chance, so be sure you're going to like the 'something else' forever, or until you quit using Facebook -- whichever comes first.
- Try to assign the 'released' username to the Page to which you want the username to point. In my case, I tried to assign stevemasover to my newly-created Facebook Page Steve Masover (Author).
- Check the availability of the username you want to transfer/assign (there's a button to click). You're going to get a very dissapointing message, something like this: Username stevemasover is not available.
- Don't despair. Try again in a couple of days. Then again in a week. Then again a few days later. Etc. As I mentioned, it took 9-12 days after I performed step #1, above, for stevemasover to become available.
- When the joyous day comes that your desired username is available to assign to your page, STOP. Make really, really SURE you spelled it right. Once you assign a username to a page, you're stuck with it. If you make a mistake, you're out of luck.
- Confirm that you want to assign the username to your page.
Why the delay?
I don't know for sure, and neither (it seems to me) does the fellow answering questions on the thread I referenced earlier. His theory is that a periodic purge of old files is performed every 14 days on Facebook's servers.
I suspect something slightly different, but only slightly: Facebook supports a lot of users, and therefore uses a lot of distributed, redundant servers to store and serve data. When a change is made to a large array of servers of this sort, it takes time for the change to replicate across the entire system. In order to avoid problems that arise from storing conflicting data on different parts of its vast array of servers, Facebook may enforce a delay. The delay might be for a fixed period of time, giving changes time to propagate throughout the network before a username is released for reassignment; or there may be a process that tests or tracks completion of propagation throughout the network. Same net result, in either case: if my theory is correct, once all the servers have recorded that the 'old' username is no longer used to point to an account profile, its owner is permitted to reassign the username to a Page.
There's nothing much to see yet on my Facebook author page. But stay tuned ... and feel free to "Like" Steve Masover (Author) in the meantime!