Facebook announces scrapping of Aadhaar “test” programme for now


Following the uproar over the discovery that Facebook was asking new users to enter their name as per their Aadhaar card, the social network giant has issued a statement clarifying the situation.


Labelling it as a “test”, Facebook claims that the mention of “Aadhaar” in the sign-up process was part of a test ran “with a small number of users in India”. The goal, apparently, was to “help new users understand how to sign up to Facebook with their real name and connect with their friends and family.”

As Facebook points out, at no point did it ask anyone for their Aadhaar number or claim to offer any means of linking the two platforms. While the company’s response does clarify the situation, it’s quite clear that Facebook, as always, is missing the whole point of the uproar.

This tweet, we feel, succinctly sums up everyone’s feelings towards Aadhaar and Facebook.

 

Ya! Can you believe it? Even thought it isn’t mandatory, it sets the wrong (worst) precedent and paves the way for a dangerous future.

If Facebook truly is ignorant of the significance of its “test”, this tweet should clarify the situation for them.

 

4. However this dramatically changes if it can be presumed that FB has just the Aadhaar name database.
5. It becomes even better if FB has the Mobile number database, which it already has through WhatsApp (Almost everyone uses their real phone numbers).

6. Data brokers routinely buy and sell data and it is quite likely that FB has access to it and Telco agents are not very averse to doing it (The source of RJIO data leak came from an agent).
7. So now FB has (Aadhaar, Name) and (Name, Mobile) and (Name, FB Account)

Facebook could just have easily asked people for their name as per their PAN card, driving license, electricity bill, or any of a dozen other forms of government-issued identification. Why did it have to pick Aadhaar? Is it so blissfully unaware of the controversies surrounding the platform?

We’ll probably never know if this was an innocent, if misguided, attempt to get new users to use their real name on Facebook. It could just as easily be a not-so-subtle attempt at currying favour with the government or a case of the company being deliberately obtuse as it pursues its some sinister, Orwellian goals of its own.

If nothing else, public opinion has forced the company to shelve its Aadhaar plans for now, as can be seen from its statement:

“As with all tests, we may learn new things that help us provide a better sign-up experience for people joining Facebook, but we currently have no plans to roll this test out further.”



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