What happens if you make your Facebook password public? Unsurprisingly, quite a lot. But does Facebook do anything about it?
According to one account, not really.
Writer Joe Veix had a wild and crazy idea: What if he made a Facebook account and then just gave everyone the password. That’s right, a personal account that anyone could access and alter. Why? Because he wanted to know what an individual social media account controlled by a plurality of people would look like. He called the project “PublikFacebook™.”
Veix began this project on July 9th and shared his findings on Death and Taxes earlier this week — and the results were pretty interesting.
When Veix first posted his password on Twitter, the changes came quick. First, the name of the account changed from John Smith the Maximilian Manning. Then people continuously changed the profile picture and the cover photo.
But cosmetic changes weren’t the only thing people did. Of course the people logged in changed biographical information, even adding Veix as the account’s father.
Other added numerous friends and liked as many pages as they could. Veix added, “Max also gave five stars to ISIS (“10/10 would recommend”), so everyone who logged in is probably on a government list now. Sorry!”
Overall the account was logged into over 135 times from numerous countries around the globe including France, Sweden, and the United Arab Emirates.
What’s of note, however, is that Facebook didn’t seem to notice. Or, at least it took the social network nearly a week to realise and act.
For more than a few days, multiple users logged in, changed things, liked pages, and messaged people, and Facebook let things go on as if this were normal Facebook activity. Veix thinks the reason Facebook didn’t visibly act is because this was what an “ideal Facebook user” should be doing; “In a way, the profile seemed to be more successful than most ‘real’ accounts — Facebook favoured the aggressive usage, and the account spread like a kind of virus, perfectly designed to take advantage of how Facebook operates.”
More interesting, Veix tried his experiment with Twitter and Instagram, and both those flopped — primarily because the platforms caught wind of the numerous logins and shut the account down.
Hacking is undoubtedly an issue that Facebook deals with everyday — and a way to gauge if an account is compromised is by monitoring logins as well as polar changes in content. At the same time, Facebook also wants users to be engaging with its pages as much as possible. This presents a potential conundrum, one that gets at the heart of the Facebook social platform: Should engagement trump individuality?
All the same, the users who participated in the experiment made for a fun experience. Veix concluded, “Facebook was, for once, actually surprising and fun.” So, even with the delayed response, perhaps PublikFacebook™ wasn’t the worst of ideas.