Jarter Jargon

Is Facebook “Owning” Your Identity?

Posted on: February 27, 2012

In this day and age, we put a lot (and I mean a LOT) of personal information online. German Internet artist Tobias Leingruber’s work looks to explore mutual impacts of communication technologies and society.

The Facebook Identity Card is modeled off Facebook’s color scheme, and includes your real name, Facebook user name, the country code Facebook uses to discern different nations, the date you joined the social network, the unique user ID number Facebook assigns its users, and a QR code linked to your Facebook page. It’s a physical tie between the user and their online identity. His ID cards are a critique of how users are becoming increasingly comfortable with corporations “owning” a piece of their identity.

When crossing the border from Canada to the U.S. last summer the border officer jokingly asked me: "So - What is your Facebook Name?" - @tbx

Facebook is huge, and getting bigger by the day. What’s more, people have begun using the social network to serve court summons. Leingruber’s creation is far from accepting of this brave new reality. Further more, Facebook is delving deeper into your personal behaviors with the possible creation of “want” and “own” buttons. The induction of the Timeline layout lets users “create” accomplishments rather than post a status update about it. Soon, partner companies can link with Facebook, so when you’re shopping, you can let your friends now things you “want” or purchase and now “own.” But what this does is it feeds into Facebooks expansive information tracking system. VentureBeat explains:

In the new world of Facebook Actions, you would simply click an “Own” button next to the tracksuit you bought on a Facebook partner site. On related parts of your Facebook profile, the app you used to show you “own” the tracksuit would add that item to a list featuring other purchases you’ve made. Other Facebook-linked apps you use might show other lists — for example, clothes you’ve worn, products you want, books you’ve read, movies you’ve reviewed — anything you’ve talked about on the network or on Facebook-connected sites around the web.

Tobias’ previous work comes from a project called Facebook Resistance, a series of workshops to encourage people to question the rules and restrictions of Facebook by showing them the basics of web technologies, open data and creating little “hacks” that open new perspectives. Feel free to check out Tobias on Twitter.


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