Here's a handy new feature that Facebook rolled out today: it's called "Trusted Contacts," and it lets you select up to five friends who can have complete unfettered access to your personal Facebook account. Boy, doesn't that sound great? With just a few mouse clicks, your prank-loving friend Bill can swap out your profile photo with a crude sketch of a penis, and add "Ball gags" to your list of Likes.
Of course, that's not really what Trusted Contacts is for. It's to help you if you accidentally get locked out of your account. But when Facebook says, "Think of it like giving your house key to a friend when you go on vacation -- pick the friends you trust the most," I can't help thinking of how this feature has the potential to backfire.
The idea behind this new feature is to give you a backup system for recovering passwords. You choose three to five friends as trusted contacts, and if you ever having issues logging in, Facebook will send different code numbers to your designated pals -- who then must turn the codes over to you, so you can unlock your account.
Trusted contacts can be chosen via Security Settings, and Facebook will notify them of their thrilling status so they won't be confused when day comes that they're called into active duty.
Keep in mind that for every person listed, you'll need a code to gain access. So if three of your buddies are trusted contacts, you'll need all three codes to log back in. Also, you'll need to pick friends you can contact via non-Facebook ways, since you'll of course be locked out of your account.
Honestly, it sounds like a colossal pain in the ass to me -- I mean, isn't this what the security questions are for? -- but I guess if you've had lots of issues with being hacked or losing your password, it's nice to have a fallback system.
Unless, of course, your trusted pals aren't quite so trustworthy. As Facebook puts it,
We encourage users to choose friends they can trust and those that are unlikely to collude and gain access to an account. Similarly, you wouldn't trust your house keys to someone who may rob your house.
It wouldn't be completely easy for a trusted contact to get into your account, since they'd need all the codes in order to do so. But if you only gave out one code, or your buddies got together and compared notes? Goodbye Facebook dignity, hello penis profile.
Will you be using the trusted contacts feature in Facebook?
Image via EPublicist/Flickr