Facebook, a leading social networking service (SNS) encourages users to use real identities on their profiles in order to create trust relationship, connect with more people and expand networking. On the other hand, online users also see connections as a tool to verify personal identity. But it does not mean that it will be totally reliable.
Verifying personal identity consists of that person shows real identity, know the subject and would impose sanction (Donath & boyd, 2004). This is a strong social mechanic to protect personal identities on SNSs. And it possibly makes us believe that identity thief seems to be impossible, because our friends would detect those questionable/wrong identities and they will impose sanction. At the end, we would know who are trying to steal our identities.
It might be true, but from the class discussion on Nov 3, 2011, we seem to ignore about questionable/wrong identities and we tend not to impose sanction.
In the class discussion on Thursday November 3, 2011, I asked the class about “Fame, your colleague claims that she was a cheerleader in a college. You were her classmate. You know that she was not a cheerleader. Will you impose sanction?”. As you may remember, most of us say, “No, I will not impose sanction.” Even, I dramatized the situation, “Fame is a new girlfriend of your ex.”. Most of our classmates insisted that we do not want to impose sanctions.
The result of class discussion pointed out that wrong identities are possibly presented without sanctions (from friends) in SNSs. This leads us to rethink about social mechanic to protect identity thief. I believe hackers would love to hear this piece of information, since it will be easy for them to say anything on SNSs (after they can hack your identity). For example, they can ask for the money/help on SNSs and no one will impose sanction on what they are saying.
There is an interesting case: Hackers changed status on victim’s Facebook profile. Then hackers sent email to victim’s friends, asking for help and money. Enjoy the clip and be careful on your identity.
Donath, J., & boyd, d. (2004). Public displays of connection. BT Technology Journal, 22(4), 71-82.