Sometimes it seems as if a few IT companies are slowly preparing to rule the world one day. Facebook and Google in particular have a tendency to stretch the boundaries of socially acceptable behaviour. German artist Tobias Leingruber has responded to the on-going privacy breeches by Facebook by creating a Facebook identity card in anticipation of the coming Facebook World Order. The project is an ironic statement on the state of affairs in the digital domain, which today reaches far beyond cyberspace into the ‘real’ world, and starts to impose its rules upon us. By letting algorithms determine our appearance and status we end up in a personal identity twilight zone.
In an interview with the Creator’s Project Leingruber related: “When I was crossing borders from Canada to the U.S. last year, the officer jokingly asked me: “So, what’s your Facebook name?” Amused but also creeped out at the same time, Leingruber decided to create the FB Bureau, a mock authority body that issues personal ID cards in Facebook blue. The project was first presented in a Berlin gallery, but unfortunately it was so successful Facebook heard about it very soon, and issued a cease and desist letter threatening legal action based on alleged copyright infringement. The artist took the project offline because he did not feel much like plunging into a long court case. “Since my idea is out,” says Leingruber again, “I was actually fine with taking the project offline to use my time for new ideas instead.” Though it is unfortunate for all of us who wouldn’t getting hold of an art object like the Facebook ID card, it seems as if Leingruber is right. His idea is out. Immediately after Leingruber’s ID card project became a buzz all over the Net other artists picked up the idea and ran with it. One of these is German artist Moritz Tolxdorff, who created a google+ identity card generator that is still online. What is slightly scary though is how the irony behind these projects is lost on some people entirely. On zdnet, a geek news site, a comment on the fake ID card projects says: “Google+ is doing a massive HIRL (hangout in real life) at SXSW starting next week. The ability to identify yourself to strangers via a card linked to their G+ profile is perfect.”