TECHNOLOGY: FACEBOOK can’t be the internet’s identity server

How Facebook is Killing Your Authenticity
Mar 6, 2011 at 6:14pm

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Face it, authenticity goes way down when people know their 700 friends, grandma, and 5 ex-girlfriends are tuning in each time they post something on the web.

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An interesting and astute observation.

On a personal note, I have some relatives, close friends, some not-so-close friends, acquaintances, e-friends I’ve never met, fellow alums fro different schools, past colleagues from various past employers, consulting contacts, fellow “outplacement” turkeys, headhunters, fellow authors, a few companion tin foil hats, and a few complete strangers.

On Facebook, like Twitter, like LinkedIn, they become one glob of undifferentiated mass of folks.

It makes the news streams into a torrent of items that can’t be reviewed, used, or actioned in any rationale way.

Since Facebook doesn’t allow alternate identities, either by its initial design — back when they required a college email address to get on, its current TOS (according to how I read it, but I’m not a lawyer, or do I play one on TV), or its new assumed role as the inet’s “identification server”.

In considering “identity”, information security gurus always identified the concept of an “identity” with the concepts of “roles” and “user control sharing”.


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SERVICE: FACEBOOK as the arbiter of identity

I’m not a fake Kate! Facebook bans royal bride’s namesake for being an imposter (but boyfriend Jonathan Ross can keep using his account)
Last updated at 5:52 PM on 24th January 2011

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Banned: Kate Middleton has had her Facebook account suspended after being accused of impersonating Prince William’s fiancée

Facebook has accused a woman of being an impostor and suspended her account – because she shares her name with Prince William’s future bride.

Healthcare assistant Kate Middleton, 29, has been locked out since last Thursday after the social network site claimed she had registered under a fake name.

Ironically, Miss Middleton’s partner Jonathan Ross has not been accused of being a fake, despite sharing his name with the television presenter.

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This is going to get interesting. Especially since FACEBOOK is being touted as the arbiter of identity.

Any competent Information Security practicioner could have predicted that “NAME” would not be a unique identifier. Or, any combination of LNAME, FNAME, LNAME||FNAME, or even if you throw in SUFFIX, TITLE, MI, or NICKNAME.


I learned this lesson in High School — too many moon ago — when the Good Christian Brothers had to revamp their “information systems” — manual on clay tablets — to accommodate identical twins Peter and Paul. It was a hoot. They were the first twins I remember meeting. (You really count Playboy twins as having been “met”. Yeah, I know TMI!)

So you can establish “identity” with any combination of name, email, phone number, or even address.

How does the internet establish identity?

I have, always, thought that the ISPs were absolutely best suited to provide “identification”.

Of course, they never agreed. But when there is a credit card transaction, you actually have something that you can hang your hat on.

It doesn’t assure that you can say it is a “unitary id”. I can, and do have, multiple ISP accounts paid for separately on different credit cards for what would be “multiple identities”.

But, it’s better than depending upon FACEBOOK.

FACEBOOK has even abandoned requiring College email accounts, so even they have realized the flaws in their original design.

What to do? What will they do?

Bottom line: Nobody does nothing! And, the problem goes on.

This is important because IF the ISPs stepped up, we could have a good age differentiator on the internet. But no one cares much! Unless you’re a parent.

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