Facebook to introduce verified accounts

16 Feb 2012

Facebook is reportedly launching a verified account service, allowing public figures to confirm their identities by submitting ID to Facebook. They can also choose to display a preferred nickname instead of a birth name.

TechCrunch reports that from today, some Facebook users with a large number of subscribers will be told they can opt into verifying their identities. Facebook will choose these people and users cannot own verified accounts without this invitation.

Verified accounts owners will be given a much more prominent placement in Facebook’s ‘People To Subscribe To’ suggestions, allowing other users to follow their favourite celebrity. However, Facebook accounts won’t have any form of badge to highlight whether or not they’re verified users.

Users will be prompted to submit an image of their passport, driver’s licence or government-issued work or military ID. If they don’t have this, they can scan two other forms of ID, such as a library card, birth certificate or credit card. Facebook said it would permanently delete documents once it verifies the user’s account.

While owners of verified accounts can use a nickname as their display name, their real names will still show on their About page. This would cater to celebrities who are best known for their stage name, such as Lady Gaga.

A major issue for public figures using social networks has been ensuring that no one else uses their identity to set up an account in their name without permission and misrepresenting them. Twitter and Google+ already have verified accounts for public figures.

Twitter faced embarrassment earlier this year, after it verified an account which claimed to be owned by Wendi Deng Murdoch, News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch’s wife. However, the person who registered the name later admitted the account was a fake.