28. February 2012–
Welcome to the future. Each citizen must, by law, carry a Facebook ID card in order to have a job, make purchases, cross borders and even to vote. Failure to comply could lead to incarceration in a Digital Realignment Camp and enforced fitting of a new RFID chip.
Science fiction dystopia perhaps, but Facebook ID cards could be just around the corner according to Berlin-based agit-digital artist Tobias Leingruber, who is staging an event this Friday to issue the early adopters of Berlin their very own laminated Facebook credentials.
Leingruber, whose day job is in innovation and community for Mozilla has a history of digital artivism – one of the co-creators of awesome browser hacks under the Artzilla umbrella, his China Cannel plugin showed what a typical censored Chinese browsing experience would look like, while Pirates of the Amazon offered up Pirate Bay recommendations on Amazon pages.
Have you registered with the Facebook Bureau?
His new project, the Facebook Bureau aims to question the nature and scope of the information that we continuously and consensually hand over to Facebook on a daily basis, mostly via signing on to new services using Facebook Connect.
“When crossing the border from Canada to the US last summer the border officer jokingly asked me: ‘So – what is your Facebook name?’ and this got me thinking about how much information is stored about us on Facebook.
“My Facebook page says more about me than anything else – it has more valuable information than a passport. Governments like Germany have released new passports that offer online identity checks as well, but they will likely never succeed with their technologies given the already existing structure of Facebook. But a future where a Facebook Identity becomes more important than any governments' doesn't seem unrealistic," says Leingruber.
Get ahead, get a card
Visitors to startup space Supermarkt this Friday will be issued with a Facebook card, complete with name, age, location, date of joining Facebook, along with a QR code that links through to their profile.
And the way people can RSVP? Facebook, of course. “Yes, it’s ironic that we’re using Facebook to get people to sign up,” says Leingruber. “But we can’t criticise a system without experiencing it and seeing the technologies – and the scary data streams – from the inside.”
Facebook haven’t been in touch with him personally, but Leingruber is 21st century enough in his activism to know not to burn his digital bridges: “Well, if Facebook approached me for a job, I’d certainly go for an interview”, he laughed. “After all, what better way to change stuff than from the inside?”