My Facebook ID is my new Passport

At the start Bassel was terrified in finding out what to do, as the rubber boat carrying his family was already 3 hours lost in the Agean Sea. Running out of options and at a breaking point of having a heart attack, he decided to write a Facebook message to a Sky journalist he met in Hungary a year ago and that still owed him one-as he helped translating an interview with another Syrian refugee for free. Bassel forwarded him the location he previously received via WhatsApp and with the help of the team and volunteers on site, he’s family could be rescued by the Turkish guard. See full story here.

Last February, in the printed US edition of Wired a similar case was presented by Julian Sancton aiming to urge the need of using the power of start-ups by humanitarian groups: if refugees are native in the usages of Facebook, Google Maps, Google Translate, WhatsApp or Viber-the article states-the authorities and rescue groups should consider investing in learning how to efficiently use these channels themselves.

Earlier this week I came across two @mashable headlines that although not so much related to each other made me think about the importance Facebook and Google are getting in the-until now-restricted official identification process each national government had.

How security is changing in European airports after the Brussels attack
UPDATE: March 24, 2016, 9:51 a.m. GMT Armed police to be deployed to Dublin Airport following the Brussels attack, the…

Facebook is testing a feature that alerts you if someone is impersonating your account
Facebook is working on a new tool to help stem one source of harassment on its platform. The social network is testing…

The Data

I really don’t think any government can access, store and exploit the amount of data these two giants can. The awkwardly half-astonished-half mad look on your face when you first saw that Google Now tells you it’s time to leave your house if not you’ll be late for your dinner reservation in that fancy mid-town restaurant where you’ll pay up to 35€, is priceless. Imagine using only part of all your online data as your passport. Sounds scary right? But it’ll definitely tell a hack more about a person than the bio-metric print. Adding to that that the latest features deployed are meant to identify the duplicated or impersonating usage of accounts, one may say we are closer to the one id=one person mark.

The Need

The two tragic events that took Europe by surprise late last year: the multiple terrorist attacks and the refugees crisis have more than one thing in common, but for the sake of the argument, we’ll settle on one: the heavy usage of social networks on both sides. Facebook was by far the most used media. To such an extend that CNN, for instance, called the Syrian refugees, the Facebook refugees. As they shared pretty much every step of their journey towards the European promise-land via social networks or chat apps. And although the data was pretty much updated in real-time the governments were not able to respond proactively and avoid the tragedies we all saw…On the other side, and with the need to respond to the active terrorist activity in the social landscape, Facebook, again, has already engaged a team to focus only on the terrorism content-they call it the Counter Speech. They are now pretty much able to apply intelligence tools to identify and act upon any terror related info displayed or in process to be displayed in its ecosystem.

The Wrap-Up

The game has changed and it won’t be long until we see the first attempts to use the data we so kindly share to identify ourselves, our identity, our habits and sins. As for the Google and Facebook squads, well, they’re trying very hard not to be evil! (see video below)