Security application enables friends to verify one and others' identities
Those friend requests seem to come in bursts on Facebook. Nothing for weeks and then “boom” 10 requests in four days.
Some requests are easy to accept but others can be difficult. “How do I know this person? Do we have friends in common?” These are frequent questions but the most difficult one is: “How do I know that person is really who they claim to be?”
Privacy on Facebook is a hot topic these days. Adding friends can be risky as you share personal information with people you can’t see face to face. You think you know the request is really from your friend, the person claiming the identity, but you must take them at their ‘digital word.’
Matias Huvelle, COO at My Safe Corp., and his two partners saw this vulnerability as their children began using social networking sites. “We thought of an app for different social networks,” he says, “to help our kids and other users around the world have a more secure identity.”
The company created MySafeFriend, a Facebook application that lets friends confirm one another’s identities. There are five levels, the first three are free, and each one requires different tasks. While the application is live on Facebook, Huvelle says his company is looking to port it to other social networking sites as well.
In order to become validated at the different levels a user must earn points. These points are earned by becoming validated by other users, a mix of people who have gone through the process already and those who have not. As the levels get higher the point totals increase.
Level four validation requires a payment card. The application compares certain data provided against data from the card transaction. Optionally, you can validate your mobile phone number. The charge is $3 for two years of validation. Level five validation will be the highest level, explains Huvelle, but details have yet to be worked out on this assurance level.
My Safe Friend is rolling out a marketing plan to educate people on the application, Huvelle says. In order for the system to work properly it needs to gain a critical mass of users to authenticate one another.
That’s the biggest hurdle the site will have to overcome. The promise of a validated identity is a good one, but it remains to be seen whether it will be enough to get individuals to use the application.