23 November 2010

Facebook IS Real ID

Psst! Wanna make a million billion dollars?

What if Facebook had slots for real world identitiers, like DMV name or bank name?  What if you built a Facebook app and a meatspace organization that would vet people, linking their Facebook ID to some real world ID?  You could charge them.  And you could offer insurance to relying parties through your Facebook app.

Vetting would have to be serious, because the fraudsters would be on to you like stink on manure.  But you could charge real money for this to recover your costs, because it would be for a significant period, like 5 years, and the better quality, the more value to the user.

Facebook themselves could offer support for self-asserted links to professional organizations, like IEEE or ASCAP or LinkedIn.  But it would take a real-world registration organization to vet the person with face-to-face meetings and breeder documents. (Check out this article in the Keesing Journal of Documents & Identity, by John Mercer, a U.S. State Department guru on documents.  He managed the development of the chip-enabled U.S. passport.  This article is just a terrific introduction to the topic of breeder documents, with lots of examples and concrete advice: Breeder Documents - the keys to identity.)

Before you rush out and start-up your new company, check out this free research from Gartner (the Burton Group) by Bob Blakley A Relationship Layer for the Web . . . and for Enterprises, Too. Bob is one of the savviest people in identity and this is a tour-de-force.  Read this and look for the term relationship service.  That would be you!

Have you ever thought about building a phony Facebook ID?  Besides being illegal, think about how really hard it is.  A fake home town, fake birthday, fake friends, fake pictures?  Each in and of themselves is not big proofing document, but taken together, they are a very compelling reality.  I am sure that there are people who can do it, but it is not easy.  It is not unreasonable to think about the person behind a Facebook as real.  What if that identity was reliably linked to other valuable identities, that have money and legacy and the law associated with them?

And this reality is what will make a Facebook ID so valuable in the future.  It is a true Real ID, way better than what the average state DMV can put together.

I heard Luke Shepard, a twenty-something Facebook engineer and evangelist talk at the 2010 Burton Catalyst conference.  Right there in front of God and everybody, he stressed that a real identity is the whole point of Facebook's design metaphor.

Nothing like basing an idea on reality to ensure long-term success.

(As an aside, if you did this for all personal data services, not just Facebook, it would get even more valuable.)

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