FB verify identityOK, people, who tagged the photo of the goat on Facebook? You know who you are. Stay right there; I?ll deal with you in a minute.

So, here I was doing my usual social media evening check-in to see who?s doing what and what?s news. I happened to see some news of yet *another* virus of some sort spreading throughout Facebook, appearing to come in the form of a status update from your Facebook friends. After reading a bit about it, I went straight to Facebook to post a warning to the AlmostSavvy fan page and to my own profile letting others know to avoid clicking on certain links. I did not include any links in my post, but did include the name of the allegedly malicious site.

After a couple of attempts to post the information, I was informed that I had been locked out of Facebook. Apparently, other users had flagged the name of the malicious link and when I tried to share it, Facebook couldn?t tell if I was one of the good guys or one of the bad guys trying to spread it around. Now, I?d think the fact that I only included the name of the site and no actual link might have given them a clue, but the approach seems to be ?when in doubt, lock them out.?

Annoying as it was for me, I can?t say that I blame them for immediately locking down on anything that seems possibly suspicious. The good news is that I was immediately directed through several steps to prove two things in order to regain access to my account: 1. that I am a real human, and 2. that I am, in fact, me. One might hope that proving point #2 might make #1 unnecessary, but I was willing to play along (not that I had any choice).

Proving that I am human is simple and accomplished through CAPTCHA. Easy, done in two seconds. What followed was much more complex. I was shown a supposedly random series of photos tagged as being of some of my Facebook friends. As with many on Facebook, some of my friends are *really* my friends whom I easily recognize. Others, well, picking them out of a police lineup might be a challenge.

For each photo, I was shown 5 friends? names. I had to select the correct name or click ?I?m not sure.? The instructions indicated that only two ?I?m not sure? answers are permitted in the series, and that is assuming that the correct name is chosen for the remaining photos. Knowing this, I felt the pressure to select a name as each photo appeared.

With so much on the line, I quickly came to the following conclusions:
  • I need to keep in touch with more of you so that I am better able to recognize your gorgeous faces
  • Many of my friends are terrible photographers, awkward photographic subjects, have or once were children, and/or are just plain wacky.

.

Imagine my joy as I was asked to identify photos which included:
  • 20-30 year old wedding and school photos (Did we really dress like that in the 80?s?)
  • Small children with the family dog (Is that you when you were a wee youngster, your child, your neighbor?s child?)
  • A large crowd of people fishing at a lake (Can?t even tell which person is tagged in the crowd.)
  • People smushing their faces in the most awful way (probably when the photographer said, ?Now, let?s take a funny one.?)
  • The back of someone?s head in the audience at a large event (A guy with black hair. Helpful, thanks!)
  • A goat (OK, which of you allowed one of your friends to tag a goat with your name? Friends don?t let friends tag goats.)

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Not surprisingly, I failed the test. When you fail, you aren?t given a score. I have no idea how many I missed, but it was enough to make my true identity open to suspicion. I?m assuming that I failed miserably, thanks to you and your funky photos.

For my next attempt, I summoned assistance. The college kid is home for winter break and, while she knows only a few of my friends, she?s one sharp cookie. I knew her input certainly couldn?t hurt. I wanted to either pass or have her laugh along with me at your impossible-to-identify photos as I failed once again. Together, we reasoned through the choices for each photo. One guy had a partially visible nametag. One bride I narrowed down to one of two names on the list and took my best shot. And the goat? I may never know. I was forced to choose the ?I?m not sure? option and hope that I had enough correct answers to pass this time. And pass I did.

So, what did we learn?

Be careful about what you post to Facebook, especially when it comes to anything related to security risks because someone may have flagged it as problematic.

And, you with the smushy face, the tagged back of the head and the goat?I?d like to speak to each of you privately after class. We?ve You?ve got issues we ought to discuss.