Facebook has asserted it has no plans of “integration or authentication with Aadhaar” and is not linking the social media accounts to the 12-digit biometric identifier. The clarification came in response to reports that indicated that Facebook was running a test, where it requested for people’s Aadhaar information when they signed up for a Facebook account. Facebook clarified that the test, which is now complete, included additional text explaining to users that if they used Aadhaar name it will help their family and friends recognise them. “We are not collecting Aadhaar data and do not require people to enter their Aadhaar name when they sign up to Facebook,” it noted in a blogpost. Facebook said the goal of the test was to help new users understand how to sign up to Facebook with their real name and connect with their friends and family. The move by Facebook is being seen as part of the company’s efforts to check the increasing number of fake accounts on the platform. Facebook, however, did not comment on that.
It explained that at the point of account sign-up, users — who were part of the test — saw language that said “using the name on your Aadhaar card makes it easier for friends to recognise you”. “This is an optional prompt that we were testing. People were not required to enter the name on their Aadhaar card, and there is no integration or authentication with Aadhaar,” Facebook added. The US-based company said the test ran with a small number of users in India and has now concluded. “…we currently have no plans to roll this test out further,” it added. India — with over 240 million users — is the second largest market for Facebook after the US.
On the other hand, with 119 crore residents already enrolled for the Aadhaar — a unique 12-digit number backed by fingerprints, iris scans and certain demographic details –the programme today is the world’s largest biometric database. The government is pushing for linking Aadhaar to a host of schemes and services such as mobile connections, PAN, and bank accounts to weed out ghost holders and check tax evasion.