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Facebook demands ID to reactivate users’ accounts

Facebook IDSeveral thousand female Facebook users were informed that their accounts were accidentally disabled yesterday. CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized for the glitch, and assured anyone affected that the site was working to get them their accounts back.

Facebook claims the issue was caused by a technical error in a program designed to locate and disable fake accounts. As it stands, the bug has been fixed, but the women with deactivated accounts are jumping through hoops to get them back, and they are less than thrilled about it.

Boy Genius Report says that Facebook is requesting these women prove their identities in order to reclaim their accounts. And not just with the common “What is your mother’s maiden name?” or “What was the street you grew up on?” type of security questions, either. Facebook is reportedly requiring them to scan and e-mail in government-issued ID. According to Boy Genius Report, women who had lost their accounts received this message: “Please upload a government-issued ID to this report and make sure that your full name, date of birth, and photo are clear. You should also black out any personal information that is not needed to verify your identity (e.g., social security number).” The note also stated that users could, “Rest assured that we will permanently delete your ID from our servers once we have used it to verify the authenticity of your account.”

Facebook claims these methods are valid. In situations dealing with account recovery, the site wants to thoroughly and correctly determine user identification, and requesting proof can be part of the process.

The idea of releasing someone’s Facebook account to another person is a scary one, but so is the notion of sending any site your license, especially in light of Facebook’s recent privacy concerns. The element of the whole thing that has yet to be addressed is why women were specifically affected.

There was speculation that the glitch was tied to Facebook’s launch of its new messaging system, but Zuckerberg swiftly shot that down, saying at the Web 2.0 event that “It was not related.”