Allowing underage individuals into a bar or club can have a devastating effect on that business, with fines, license suspensions, and even criminal charges hitting the owner hard. It’s not always easy to verify identification, so some enterprising bouncers in the U.K. have started matching up Facebook accounts to IDs.
Some bouncers have demanded that patrons log in to Facebook using their smartphone to make sure they are not using a fake ID.
On a few occasions, bouncers have asked to see Charlotte Neal’s phone to make sure her Facebook account matched her driver’s licence.
"When it happened the first time I didn't really think anything of it,” she told BBC’s Newsbeat. "Then I thought, 'Hang on, is this really how you're supposed to check how old I am?' But I was out, and I wanted to get in the club so I just agreed."
A number of other reports suggested that the practice is becoming more and more commonplace, with one of the show’s listeners suggesting that bouncers match IDs to Facebook accounts often in Northern Ireland.
Yet there are some concerns over how the practice affects patrons’ privacy.
"Not only is it ridiculous from a security point of view, it's an affront to the basic rights of people to be able to live their lives in private," said Nick Pickles, of campaign group Big Brother Watch. "This shouldn't be an excuse for nightclubs to snoop and pry into people's private lives."
Bouncers and bar owners defended the measure, citing fines of several thousand pounds and convincing fake IDs as reasons for double-checking customers’ identities.
Aside from the privacy concerns, there are other issues at play. It’s entirely possible that people with legitimate IDs but no smartphones, will be turned away when they can’t flash an iPhone or Android phone’s screen.
The practice doesn’t entirely solve the identity problem either. Those with fake IDs could quite easily create a fake Facebook account that matches the personal information on the card.
Facebook has toyed with the idea of becoming community members’ real-world identity system. But the ease with which an account with false details can be created means it’s probably going to be a long time before we hand over Facebook ID cards at a bar’s entrance.
Photo by Anuj Biyani