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May 5, 2012

Getting Into Bars - Show Me Some Facebook

(Thanks to Moncton Blogger)
Would you rather hear that rather than "show me some ID?" Or do you see that as a massive invasion of privacy?

Believe it or not, some clubs in the UK are having their bouncers check your Facebook account on your phone rather than (or sometimes in addition to!) your driver's license.

According to the BBC, "Some bouncers have been demanding people hand over their smartphones so they can check Facebook accounts...". This is ostensibly to verify their age. (h/t: Boingboing)

Never mind the fact that this means that you always have to have an Internet-capable phone with you whenever you go out (believe it or not, some people *still* cling to the idea of just having a phone that's only a phone, though maybe that doesn't apply to people young enough to be carded in the first place).

The most important thing is that this can conceivably be a massive invasion of privacy. I'm just looking at my Facebook account on my phone right now (yes, believe it or not, I actually do research for some of these posts!), and my "About" section has my place of employment, Education, and a bunch of other information in addition to my birthday on it. Do I really want some bouncer at some night club to be looking at all of that? I don't think so! It's none of their business where I work, and if they scroll down enough, there's a phone number there too. Assuming you put it in there, of course. But really, how many young socialites are not going to have their numbers on their Facebook accounts, even if they're on their privately? Probably not many of them.

Of course, the night clubs and bouncers defending this practice fall back on that old canard "If you're not doing anything wrong, what do you have to worry about?" That reasoning is completely specious because it misses the point. Nobody should have to present any part of their private lives to a bouncer just to get into a club. While Facebook is social media, the user chooses who to share that information with. Thus, it is private.

There is one other reason why this is the stupidest policy I've seen in a while for similar situations.

People lie.

Yes, fake IDs exist, and they are getting better all the time. "Chris, a bar owner from Folkestone, told Newsbeat that convincing fake ID was easy to get - and often very hard for door staff to spot."

That may be, but people lie on Facebook much more often than they get fake IDs. The minimum age for a Facebook account is fourteen.

Do you know how many 10-13 year-old kids there are on Facebook? A lot. Many of them with their parents' permission. In other words, you can put any old year down for a "birth date" when you create a Facebook account.

So an 18-year-old girl who wants to get into a club where she's required to show her Facebook account on her phone to the bouncer to verify ID may very well have a Facebook account that shows she's 19 (the drinking age up here in Canada).

Chris in the article says "Checking phones with consent is at least a more certain way." Tell me again how checking Facebook accounts is more certain when they can lie about their age?

Thankfully, there are some people with morals and a brain in the industry.
However, Paul Martin-Beades, the director of Akira Training, which trains about 250 door staff a year, said checking Facebook accounts was unacceptable.

He said all staff approved by the Security Industry Authority (SIA) are taught about the law and human rights and would know it was wrong.

"Only the people involved can say why they do this but they would never have been taught to do it."
This policy is outrageous in its privacy concerns but it's also stupid because it's actually easier to circumvent than the ID requirement.

Hopefully they'll wise up and shelve this policy quickly.


  1. Guess I'd never get to go to a night club. My phone is a phone & that's all. I can take pictures if I want but that's all. It sure does sound like a invasion of privacy.

  2. Somehow, I don't think they'd be IDing you. :)

  3. I read. I stared. I proceeded to flat out goggle (not Google, btw) in stupefied silence. SERIOUSLY??? How on earth could anyone think this is an intelligent decision? My immediate thought was the obvious inability to trust accuracy about anything on a Facebook account; as you noted yourself, children have FB accounts! And everything on a FB account can be controlled and manipulated by the owner of the account. This is sheer idiocy. Period.

    We've exceeded the old "push button society" to become what is fast approaching moronic "one click society". The blatant laziness of this choice that is being discussed is what has me shaking my head. It takes less time to look at a danged license than it does to have someone drag their smart phone out, access their account and let the bone headed bouncer scroll through their info. Methinks this demand is probably a self-serving, creep factor stalking issue on the part of the bouncers. THINK before you act, people!! *sheesh*

    Great post, Dave! You had me in Dawnie Rant mode w/in seconds! ;o)

    - Dawnie

  4. Dawnie, you know I love your rants. :)

    The funny thing is that this is coming at the directive of some bar/club owners, which is just amazing. You'd think they'd be more intelligent.

    Y'know, I don't think I've succeeded on this blog unless I provoke at least one Dawnie rant per week. :)

  5. Are you calling me old babe?LOL

  6. Nononononononononono!!!!!

    Just "seasoned."


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