Faces on facebook

Screen Shot 2013-06-16 at 9.33.26 AMI tried to log in to facebook, which, given that I know my password, should be a simple enough process.

Except that I was trying to log in on someone else’s computer, which happened to be sitting in Brussels at the time.

Facebook didn’t like this, and took me through an interesting verification process. It offered me a series of images in which my friends are tagged, beside each image was a list of names and I had to match the name to the face. I think I had to get seven right for facebook to believe I was me.

Two small issues; the first photo they gave me was taken in rather dim lighting at a party, it was quite difficult to make out that the grey blob they’d highlighted was a person let alone someone I knew. A later photo was of someone I didn’t recognise at all, because I have friends who only exist online. The relationship we have is like the pen-pal relationships of old. To put it another way – I’ve never met her.

However I got enough questions right to be admitted to my account, which was lucky because I was in a hurry to pick up a message there containing a phone number I needed.

But it got me thinking, this is a form of identification that would be pretty hard to fake – and harder the bigger the pool of friend’s photos there were to draw from. It was more fun than those generic security questions about my mother’s maiden name or my grandmother’s date of birth. And much more fun than being forced to request a new password.

Of course if I had a smarter phone I wouldn’t have needed to do any of it.

image Faces of identity: which are hidden and why? / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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