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Bars Cross-Checking Facebook Accounts for ID Authenticity

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It looks like being a teenager just got a little bit harder. Some day soon, forward-thinking young people might have to choose between a fake ID and a Facebook (FB) account.

Yesterday, Yahoo News reported that bouncers in the UK have started double-checking patrons’ identification against their Facebook profiles. Basically, the goal is to determine that the name and birth date match.

Bouncers involved in the practice have been clear that a Facebook is not a replacement for an ID. For the record, Facebook does not rigorously confirm user birth dates, and users can change their birthday like this.

Some people have expressed concerns over the new practice. For example, Time Magazine quotes a representative from the group “Big Brother Watch” saying that it violates patron privacy rights.

On their end, bar owners and bouncers claim that high fines for letting in underage drinkers make the checks necessary. Beyond that, patrons can always go home when asked to open up Facebook.

Of course, the more pressing questions center on effectiveness. As we saw yesterday, it isn’t exactly difficult to set up a social media account in someone else’s name. (Full disclosure: Minyanville has since been contacted by a concerned reader who has made it clear that the @shitkrusesays Twitter account is a parody.)

Underage patrons could conceivably set up profiles in their fake IDs’ names and use them to get in to bars. Then again, they could just as easily hide their birthday on their profile, as Facebook makes clear to anyone signing up (click, “Why do I need to provide my birthday?” for info on hiding it).

At the end of the day, like many other things, checking Facebooks against IDs will probably only remain an effective security feature as long as it’s a surprise. The next step? Maybe bouncers could Google (GOOG) patron’s yearbook photos.

Meanwhile, adults at one school are using Facebook in the fight against troublemakers. A Clayton, MO principal plans to resign at the end of the year after being caught using a fake Facebook profile to spy on students.
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