Carat Tried to Steal a Facebook URL from a Private User, and it Totally Backfired

By Matt Van Hoven 

Carat is the purported perpetrator of a preposterous, semi-dastardly conspiracy to rid one man of his Facebook URL ( so that the agency could use it for their own devious plans. The agency known only as Carat (care-ahhh) allegedly tried to commandeer the URL for their client, Harman International. Worse still, Facebook helped them do it, eventually telling its original owner he’d broken the rules and so they were not being mean when they stole his URL.

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A few months ago Facebook opened up to users a functionality that allows them to choose a URL for their personal page. For example, AgencySpy’s is, where prior it read something like Harman Bajwa (not to be confused with former TBWA-dude Hashem Bajwa) was the proud owner of, until recently, reports TechCrunch.

Bajwa reportedly got an email from Carat Emerging Media Strategist Tyler Bahl, asking essentially if Bajwa was willing to give up his URL for some Coke products. Reading between the lines it’s clear Bahl wasn’t so much asking as telling:

From: Tyler Bahl
To: Harman Bajwa
Sent: Fri, January 22, 2010 11:25:21 AM
Subject: Harman

Hi Harman,

Thanks for accepting my friend request on Facebook.

I’m the emerging media strategist at Carat in Boston and I work on the Harman International account. We’re launching our first initiative in partnership with the GRAMMYS on Monday. Harman International is looking to obtain the vanity url for their Facebook fan page.

We are currently working with Facebook to reclaim ( the username, but I wanted to explore opportunities to work with you to acquire the name. In the past, we have offered product in exchange for social domain names. One case in mind was for the new movie Avatar, we were able to give promotional items to the owner of for Coke Zero.

Do you have time to connect today to discuss this opportunity in more detail?



Bajwa wasn’t swayed by the promotional product promise, and declined the offer. That didn’t matter to Carat though, as the agency was already working behind his back to wrangle control of the URL through Facebook. The following email landed in Bajwa’s email, claiming he’d improperly selected that username to begin with. Convenient!

Please Read This!

The username you selected was removed for violating Facebook’s policies. A Facebook username should have a clear connection to one’s identity. In addition, impersonating anyone or anything is prohibited. If you see other people with usernames that do not accurately represent their real names, it is only because they have not yet been removed for misuse.

To select a new username, please visit the following link:

Thanks for your understanding,

The Facebook Team

As if is somehow misleading when connected to a man whose first name is Harman (and, ironically, is probably going to be known for this whole situation as ‘facebook harman’ or something). TechCrunch, the Washington Post, and a flurry of media attention blew this story up over what was otherwise a fairly slow news weekend. Today Bajwa has been returned his URL, and there’s a Facebook group supporting him through the saga.

Let this be a lesson to you: never forget how powerful one person can be, especially when dealing with social media.

Via Tribble