Using Facebook for Verisimilitude? For real?

By Neil Schwartzman
Neil Schwartzman

I recently became aware of the new pay-by-mobile phone service

"Pay friends with your phone, skip the ATM, Settle up on meals, rent, bills and drinks" —Venmo website

Venmo are using Facebook connect as a way of verifying user identities, at least that is what they claim at,

Why we ask you to Connect to Facebook

A full name, photo, and link to a Facebook profile with every account provides you with more information about the people you exchange money with.

We ask that you connect your Facebook account for two reasons: it helps us verify your identity, and it makes it easier for you to connect with your friends. We'll never post to your wall without your permission, or share sensitive information with Facebook. We're constantly evaluating our policies; if you have feedback please email

I hate to burst any bubbles, but disposable mobile phones are a dime a dozen, as are email addresses, and thus, fake Facebook profiles.

The new service is being touted as a quick and easy way to move money between friends. I wonder how long that will last, before the 419ers and online fraudsters begin to use the service to their own money-laundering ways.

Personally speaking, my friends can wait for me to settle bar bills. After all, isn't that what friends are for? This appears to me to be yet another erosion of safe computing practices, in the name of gee-whiz kewl technology, which will inevitably end in problems.

By Neil Schwartzman, Executive Director, The Coalition Against unsolicited Commercial Email - CAUCE. Visit the blog maintained by Neil Schwartzman here.

Related topics: Cybercrime, Cybersecurity