A rather embarrassing incident has left Facebook saving face, as the firm has had to apologize to a user whose vanity URL it snatched, purportedly to sell to a company for cold hard cash.
TechCrunch reported it had been contacted by Facebook user Harman Bajwa to say he had received a rather menacing poke from the Facebook team, informing him that his vanity URL – Facebook.com/Harman – was removed “for violating Facebook’s policies.”
“A Facebook username should have a clear connection to one’s identity,” the note ironically continued to a confused Harman, now denoted by the catchy URL facebook.com/profile.php?id=538612932.
Fair enough, Facebook, mistakes happen, but the plot thickens and all may not be as it seems on the face of things, because poor, victimized Harman also got contacted by a rep from the firm Harman International the very same day to say it was “working with Facebook” to acquire the /Harman URL.
The rep indicated that his firm needed the URL for a promotion it was doing around this year’s Grammy awards and would compensate Harman with some cheap corporate “promotional items” to make up for the inconvenience.
Cheap tat in exchange for bully boy tactics and the forceable removal of one’s legitimate URL. Nice.
But succumbing to the mighty and crushing power of the Arrington, Facebook has now issued a red faced apology to Harman Bajwa, saying it will be giving him back his vanity URL soon. It didn’t say whether he’d still be entitled to free crap from corporate Harman though.
The social not-working firm did, however, try to wriggle out of accusations that it had annexed the URL for cash, writing:
“The move was not driven by monetary reasons, rather trademark protection. We strive to protect trademarks from ’squatters’ — those who try to take protected terms with no legitimate claim. The message Harman received was along those lines, but clearly not applicable. Once we understood the nature of our error, we moved quickly to resolve it. We want to apologize to Mr. Bajwa for being overzealous in our efforts and regret the disruption to his account.”
Way to face the music Facebook.