I have a nice external URL for my friends who want to find me and hopefully connect in MySpace and LinkedIn, but Facebook seems like a world unto itself. Is there some sort of URL I can use to get the same result in Facebook?
One of the popular phrases that you’ll hear a lot in Web 2.0 conferences is “walled garden” and in many ways Facebook exemplifies the concept: a terrific online world with many capabilities and engaging features that’s isolated and a world unto itself. It’s because of their walled garden philosophy that it’s so darn hard to “break in” to Facebook.
One factor is that there are no publicly accessible profiles unlike MySpace or LinkedIn, but even then, it’s frustrating and difficult to figure out how to point people to your Facebook profile even if they’re already part of the Facebook online community.
I thought it would be interesting to try and crack this nut, so I sent an invitation to join Facebook and connect with me to a variety of friends. The URLs in their messages should offer up a clue as to how an external link could work, right? Here’s what we gleaned:
Apparently, the “k=” value is somehow tied to the email address of the recipient, since they’re all different, while the “i=” value (my Facebook member number) and the “v=” values are the same.
Hmmm…. so what happens if you just “forget” that “k=” value?
You get to sign up for Facebook, that’s what happens. Once you’ve done that, or if you’re already signed in to Facebook, however, you find that it’s an invalid link. Facebook doesn’t want us to hack its URLs in this fashion!
What you should apparently use instead, however, is the following:
Click on it to see what happens.
Now, replace my ID (500501552) with your own Facebook ID (which you can quickly glean by grabbing the URL of your picture. Mine, for example, is http://www.facebook.com/album.php?profile&id=500501552, which gives me my own ID without having to email an invitation to myself!) and you should be good to go.
Is it a great solution compared to the nice custom URLs from LinkedIn and from MySpace? No. But if we’re stuck in a walled garden, at least it’s something…
Note: if someone else has figured out a better strategy for having an external Facebook link please do add a note here so we can all benefit from your efforts!