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Ten million log on to Facebook to claim their own 'vanity' web addresses

Insomniac entrepreneurs stand to profit handsomely from Facebook's "vanity URL" giveaway, after millions snapped up the choicest profile addresses in the hours after they became available in the middle of Friday night.

While most people who logged in made a beeline for their own names, before any rivals could take them, many enterprising users took URLs such as facebook.com, /digitalcameras, and /besthotels in the hope of selling them on to others with related businesses. Already these profile pages are turning up for sale on online marketplaces such as Assetize in the hope of attracting bids in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Although the URL giveaway only brings Facebook into line with MySpace, which has long allocated users their own distinctive addresses, the move generated substantial new traffic to the social networking leader. Within 15 minutes of the addresses becoming available, over a half million users had signed them up. The number clicked over 10 million within five days. Facebook is understood to have contemplated auctioning the addresses, but worried that the move would infuriate those who lost out to more wellheeled namesakes.