Verified Accounts or “Don’t let your friends steal your name”

I have a great friend (who may not agree with that “great” part after this) who refused to have a facebook page. I can’t disagree with the idea of being the part of the few left in America without one, but it has become somewhat of a joke with us.

Friend: Why didn’t you tell me?!

Me: I did tell everyone, via Twitter and Facebook

A few nights ago while we were chatting via Jabber I decided to play a little joke and create him a Facebook page.

His very own facebook page!

It didn’t take long to look for a picture of him online thanks, in no small part, to his wonderful friends who have named the files after him. With that I proceeded to fill in the pertinent details I grabbed from LinkedIn and some Google Searches and Boom! A page that looked as if it had been made by my friend. I did decide to add a few tweaks that provided me some giggles.

 

A very nice comment from my friend

From there it was a matter of adding a few mutual friends and before I knew it the entire social world began to add him! The page was reasonable enough to pass for his despite being littered with a few jokes about me being his sole “Inspirational People” listing and tagging all the pictures of cow butts and dogs I could find with his name. This with a mixture of whisky was fuel for countless belly laughs.

When you control your buddies page you can do funny things

Now if I was a total jerk (which once again my friend might call me after this) I could begin to scavenge his social network for information for further hacks. A picture and a name sufficed to harvest his entire contact list. The prank at this point though got me thinking.

  1. Why doesn’t Facebook have verified accounts like Twitter? It would be easy enough to put in some pertinent information or verification. Much in the same way we validate GPG/PGP keys, we could have a validated list using friends. “DO YOU KNOW THIS DUDE? CAN YOU VERIFY HIS ACCOUNT?”
  2. The barrier of entry for creating a facebook page has dramatically decreased. I can remember when it was College only that it would attempt to validate your name against your email address and school. It was impossible to say you went to Michigan State without a Michigan State email address.
  3. People trust anything written on a screen.
  4. The prank renforces to me the idea of owning your online presence. It doesn’t matter if you want to be a luddite or not if the information is going to be published. A good defense is executing on a good offense. This rings so true for the multitude of online companies out there with someone squatting on their named accounts.
  5. I have a great friend who is going to forgive me for doing this to him

Friend I thank you for the laughs and hope you can forgive me. I have changed the email address associated with the account to yours and have requested a reset password. Take comfort in knowing I used the prank for good in the end by blogging about the risks.