German artist Tobias Leingruber this week created the (first?) unofficial Facebook ID card. The project is called FB Bureau, and essentially consists of Leingruber single-handedly printing and distributing ID cards with Facebook information on them. Each Facebook ID includes your real name, username, gender, location, the date you joined the social network, and a QR code that will send people right to your profile.
Here's his description of the Facebook ID card:
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, powered by laziness (or convenience). The other way around though - A future where a Facebook Identity becomes more important than any governments' doesn't seem unrealistic. This possible future is already half-way there. What is exciting about this, what can be our role as artists and why should one even bother? Let's find out!
Next time someone needs to "see your ID" - How about showing a Facebook ID card instead of the documents your government gave you? On the web this is common practice for millions of people already. Therefore - Forget privacy. The user's next battle is about nothing less but who controls your identity, and we still might have something to say about it.
He is handing them out at the following conferences in Europe next month:
Another German artist, Moritz Tolxdorff, saw what Leingruber was doing and decided to port the idea to Google+. Here's what he wrote today:
Who wants a +Google+ ID Card
A German artist named +Moritz Tolxdorff has come up with this concept for a +Google+ ID card.
His point is to bring attention to a possible future in which the +Google+ identity is so broadly accepted that it's more important than government issued identity documents like drivers licenses or passports or even Facebook ID cards.
After surprising demand from Google+ users, he built Hangout Graphics where you can easily create your own Google+ ID card.
While definitely amusing, these identification cards are next to useless right now. That being said, if Facebook or Google ends up backing such an initiative, it could become popular very quickly. Facebook is already using a similar system for its own conferences, so I wouldn't be surprised if one day Facebook were to offer ID cards for any company who makes a Facebook Event or uses Facebook Connect.
That being said, I would argue that ID cards aren't the answer. Instead, I believe Near Field Communication (NFC) technology will take off at some point very soon. The Facebook app on your phone will be updated to work with NFC and will be able not only to confirm your ID, but also work with mobile payments.
I have contacted Facebook and Google about these ID cards and will update you if I hear back.
Update at 5:15 PM PST: Facebook declined to comment on this article.