Things one must bring to the airport: luggage, boarding pass, mid-flight snacks, and your Facebook profile. While of using Facebook as identification seems brand new, it has been in place for a while. The TSA still accepts government issued IDs, such as passports and driver’s licenses, but it will also use any “publicly available database” to verify identity.
The TSA website states:
“We understand passengers occasionally arrive at the airport without an ID, due to lost items or inadvertently leaving them at home. Not having an ID does not necessarily mean a passenger won’t be allowed to fly. If passengers are willing to provide additional information, we have other means off substantiating someone’s identity, like using publicly available databases.”
My sister forgot her government-issued ID when flying from Birmingham, AL to Washington, DC. The TSA agents allowed her to use her University of Alabama ID, two credit cards, and a work ID to board the plane.
It seems unlikely that someone would carry four fake IDs bearing the same name, but is Facebook as verifiable as the combination my sister used?
While searching for employment, many alter their Facebook name to hide their more casual side. Foreign-born individuals that go by a more American name on Facebook and people who go by strange nicknames might have trouble using Facebook at a TSA check point. And what about those with really common names? There are 38,313 people named James Smith in the U.S., for example. Can these people still use Facebook to verify their identities?
Mashable questioned the TSA about the decision to use social media as a “publicly available database”:
Focusing in on this point, we asked the TSA: Is there a list of social media websites that are TSA-approved sources of public database information?
“We don’t utilize social media websites to confirm a passenger’s identity,” says Feinstein. “We use publicly available databases.”
Facebook is a social media website, though. The TSA should provide a list of all approved publicly available databases. Can I use my LinkedIn? It contains recommendations, employer information, and outlines an individual’s professional background. What about my twitter account?
How do you feel about Facebook being used as a TSA identifier? Would you use your profile to get onboard?