How Will Social Captchas Affect Facebook Connections?

Facebook is experimenting with enhancing security around user accounts through a socially-enabled login process. Essentially, instead of seeing disguised words, users will see photos of their “friends” and be asked to identify them.

This new mechanism, PC Magazine tells us, will only be shown if Facebook detects unusual activity on your account (for example, logging in in one place then logging in a thousand miles away shortly thereafter). However, the introduction of socially-enabled sign-ins like this raises an interesting question that arose when I chatted with Paull Young last week:

What effect will social captchas have on people who accept anyone’s friend requests?

What about the Scobles, the Shankmans, the Calicanises (sp?)? When you have 5,000 friends on Facebook and you know a small fraction of them, what chance do you stand when faced with trying to identify them in order to log on to the most popular site on the Internet?

My sense is that if social captchas do become more widespread, we’ll see three things:

  1. Built-in options to allow people to narrow the set of their friends who are considered for the captchas
  2. Fewer people accepting friend requests from random strangers
  3. More ‘connectors’ and ‘a-listers’ pushing random requests to separate Facebook Pages

What’s your take? Will social captchas change the way people approach connecting to others on Facebook?

Dave Fleet
Managing Director and Head of Global Digital Crisis at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.