Facebook confirm identity by mobile nuisance

As previously discussed, I don’t use Facebook to keep track of contacts for privacy reasons. However, it can be useful to have a Facebook account in order to make contact with and e-mail people, and also to view photo galleries when they have granted sufficiently-public access. Unfortunately, in these unenlightened times, Facebook is many people’s only web presence. In an ideal world, people would have proper web pages that anyone could find using Google, rather rely on a commercial site that requires everyone to log in using accounts, but unfortunately we don’t live in an ideal world.

The Facebook "confirm your identity" screenAs of this week, if I attempt to log in to Facebook, I see a message asking me to confirm my identity by entering a mobile phone number. I never give out my mobile phone number, so I’m certainly not going to enter it into a website I don’t trust in the first place. There is a link that says, “Or use a different verification method”, but all this does is briefly flash a “confirm” button up, which then disappears. No other methods are offered.

I found posts by various people complaining about the same problem, but even so, it only seems to affect a small number of people. Have they picked up on the fact that my account has no “friends”, so assumed it is an account used for nefarious purposes? Cynically, I’m thinking their motivation is partially to encourage more people to use their mobile service, which they are promoting heavily at the moment. No doubt, once a user has entered their phone number, they will receive plenty of SMS spam from Facebook.

I attempted to work around this problem by creating a new account. This worked initially, but within 24 hours I hit the same problem. So instead, my solution is to send off for a free SIM card with free credit (yes, there are such things) and use that to “confirm” my account. It’s hardly making Facebook “a community of real people who connect and share using their real identities”, as any phone can be used with any false name.

I’d be interested to hear from anyone else who’s been asked to confirm their identity by Facebook, any solutions, or any suggestions of why this happens to particular accounts.

4 responses to “Facebook confirm identity by mobile nuisance”

  1. Designer in Devon

    I’m having this same problem, and my account has plenty of friends on it. I personally don’t want to give Facebook my mobile phone number because I don’t trust what they’ll do with it. And it does smell of virus! But even my Tweetdeck on which I have Facebook is asking me for my password, and rejecting it – could this, too, be stealing my information?

    I’d like to be able to change my password on Facebook. That’s my next challenge…

  2. Jonathan

    Strangely, yesterday I received an e-mail from Facebook saying, “You haven’t been back to Facebook recently. You have received notifications while you were gone.” with a link to follow. The link took me straight to my account without the confirmation prompt. Naturally, the reason I hadn’t been back was because of the confirmation screen. There weren’t even any new notifications, just a pending friend request from a few years ago. For the moment at least, it’s fixed the problem.

    As for passwords, I had no problem changing mine recently, although you can’t do it once you are locked out requiring a mobile number.

  3. Jonathan

    I finally received a reply from The Facebook Team yesterday. It said: “Sorry for the delay in getting back to you…” (I should think so) “…our security systems thought you may not be using your real identity with this account.” They finish off saying, “To learn more about our guidelines for Facebook accounts, please visit our Help Center” as if to imply I’m still doing something wrong. I haven’t read the guidelines, so I’m wondering whether not adding any contacts is simply considered a cardinal sin by Facebook’s “security system”.

  4. Matt B

    I have two FB accounts, one is exactly like yours with no contacts, and I only use it to play FB games to avoid spamming other people’s walls with requests etc. Clearly this is not using my real identity and I do not have any personal information or even my real name connected with it.

    Now your message from FB implied that this is a big no-no but i have to say I think that there are many many others who have ‘fake’ FB accounts for similar or even more nefarious purposes!

    BTW the new initiative that was launched by FB the other day will make a massive backwards step in privacy as it basically links all of your email accounts, twitter accounts etc together so if you get hacked (or are lazy with security) once you might as well have given away all of your passwords in one fell swoop.

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