Here’s a little peek into what could possibly be a fixture in our future: Facebook ID Cards. Last October 11, the company applied for a trademark on the usage of “Facebook” on “cards, namely business cards and non-magnetically encoded identity cards”. The application is open for all to see and on trademark search engines such as Trademarkia.
What does this mean exactly? Well, there’s nothing certain as of yet. All the trademark really does, if granted, is to protect the usage of the word Facebook for the print formats mentioned. The least that could happen is that people will no longer be able to create fake Facebook business cards for themselves.
However, if one is to think on a grand scale, the possibilities are pretty much endless. In the trademark’s description, Facebook has “Facilitating social and business networking through the provision of data for use on business and identity cards” listed. This pretty much opens up the possibility for some sort of Facebook Card with which we can make purchases through Facebook credits.
‘Non-magnetically encoded’ does not necessarily mean cardboard and paper either. New technology has allowed for the use of QR code and NFC/RFID – technology that works through magnetic induction and not encoding; technology that Facebook has already made use of previously.
Those who attended the F8 conference are likely to remember the Facebook Presence Cards, which people could use in 9 photo booths provided in the area. The photo booth automatically uploaded pictures onto the person’s Facebook account and tapping the Presence card would onto the screen would even allow that person to tag himself in the pictures.
It’s not really farfetched to imagine how that same technology could be used by the company in the future in the event that they really do roll out Facebook cards en masse. Facebook could literally become a sort of debit card through which we make purchases in a nearly seamless integration of our real lives and our online presence. In fact, these Facebook Cards are likely to become identity cards, further integrating the social network site into our lives.
The whole concept sounds like something out of a science fiction novel with Facebook as the Big Brother Company that watches each and every move we make, purchases included. The security and privacy implications are so numerous and particularly severe. However, thinking about them would be highly premature. For now, all we have is a Trademark. There is no solid proof that Facebook is actually working on them so accusations need not fly as of yet. If they do begin to develop one, though, well, perhaps we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.