Losing Control

fbkIn these days of everything online, electronic banking and identity theft, why is the largest social media organisation in the world requiring teenagers and young adults to send photographs of their passports and birth certificates over unsecured email?

The “Real Name” fiasco still under way at Facebook has caused consternation in many areas. People who for many years were sharing information about their lives under the presumed protection of an avatar identity have been required to reveal their legal names. The reasons one might be using an avatar identity are many, and serious… escaping a failed and abusive relationship, practicing a religion not accepted by family or community, being LBGT and not out to ones family, being a teacher or other professional in a similar role, or simply being better known by a name you have used for decades, but that is not your legal name.

Who made Facebook the naming police? And why would they choose to alienate such a large number of their user base? It has to come down to Facebook needing to sell validated information to their customers – no, not us, the marketers, advertisers and agencies. Remember who you are; not the customer, the product.

In enforcing this “real or leave” policy, they appear to be endangering the very identities they seek to confirm. Young people, who may not have a full understanding of the potential consequences, are now sending scans, phone pics and in at least one alleged case, paper copies of legal documents upon which their legal identity is based. Birth certificates, passports, driving licences… all over unsecured email accounts.

How long will it be before someone finds their identity in use elsewhere, because they wanted to keep using Facebook?

Me, I’ve used a real name on Facebook from day one, but this issue is the final straw and I’m massively reducing my use of the media. It’s hard, since Facebook has inveigled its way into so much of everyday online existence – gaming, clubs, politics, religion… it’s all on Facebook now. So I’ll not be deleting my account, simply reducing it and removing as much personal information as I can (and irregularising what remains).

Who are you?

One response to “Losing Control”

  1. I very much share you sentiments on this one, plus, it makes no sense. Cinemas, radio, tv, magazines, newspapers, all manage to sell advertising space without needing the name and address of each person considering the add. There is simply no need for it to be different on facebook. I’m pulling most of my energy out, and if they challenge me, I’ll go through their process until I can get to the point of being able to send them a message telling them exactly what I think of them. I will not be handing over documents.


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