New Delhi: Facebook is testing a new feature in India wherein it is encouraging new users to enter their names as per their Aadhaar card. Seems as if linking Aadhaar with bank accounts, mobile numbers, or for that matter Paytm wasn’t enough to cause confusion and commotion in the lives of Indians, that now Facebook is asking for Aadhaar authentication?
The move is aimed at encouraging users to put their real names on the social network. Since it’s being tested with a small population in India, not all users may be able to see this. It is worth pointing out here that the Aadhaar-based sign up is not mandatory.
According to reports, a Facebook spokesperson has confirmed that the company is prompting users to sign-up with their Aadhaar name, as part of a small test. He also made it clear that it is not mandatory and users can choose to skip the prompt too.
Although Facebook has confirmed that it is just a small test, the move has left users in utter chaos. With around 200 million Facebook users in India, people are worried if the move could invade their privacy.
Facebook confirmed that it is indeed testing such feature. “We want to make sure people can use the names they’re known by on Facebook, and can easily connect with friends and family. This is a small test where we provide additional language when people sign up for an account to say that using the name on their Aadhaar card makes it easier for friends to recognise them. This is an optional prompt which we are testing. People are not required to enter the name on their Aadhaar card,” said a Facebook spokesperson.
Note that Facebook isn’t asking for your Aadhaar number, but just the name as per your Aadhaar card.
The association with Aadhaar, however, is expected to raise eyebrows. There have been concerns about the safety of Aadhaar data after private details of citizens were leaked on government websites and from private bodies like banks, telecom operators, insurance providers and financial organisations.
According to a government reply in Parliament in June 2017, more than 200 government websites published names of beneficiaries of welfare schemes with their addresses and Aadhaar numbers.
The government has argued that Aaadhar is necessary to plug leakages in its subsidised welfare programmes, to prevent corruption, and to protect national security.
Earlier, several users on Reddit and Twitter posted messages about Facebook’s new feature. Some users, however, claim this feature was being tested since a longer time.
“FB actually does it for a long time now. India is new in this maybe. But they ask for photo ID like driver licence/passport/some others. They even ask for you to upload your real photo (by opening front camera) for verification (if your dp isn’t),” claimed a user on Reddit.
“Any data is useful data . Maybe not now but in future. And I’m sure FB already has internal profiles in which they wrote entire persons’ data like name address phone number aadhaar number etc,” said another user while responding to a query whether Facebook has access to Aadhaar details.