It’s common practice to give out spare house keys to a few trusted friends in case of an emergency, but would you take the same approach when it comes to backing up Facebook login information?
The social network on Thursday announced it’s rolling out a new way to recover passwords with a little help from your friends. Called Trusted Friends, it gives three to five friends access to your account if you’re ever having issues logging in.
The company first introduced the concept to a small test group in 2011 under the name “trusted friends.” Facebook has renamed it “trusted contacts” and increased security.
“This solution provides users with another way to recover their password and can choose which method to use,” a Facebook spokesperson told Mashable. “In addition, while you might forget your security questions (or never set one up) you never forget who your friends are.”
When an account can’t be accessed, Facebook will send different code numbers to your group of trusted contacts. If you have three people listed, you will need three codes to regain access. But if you have five selected, only three codes are needed.
“Not only are all selected friends needed to open the account, but also the person logging on still needs to get through our login security system which vets every single attempt to access an account,” the spokesperson said. “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.”
Facebook suggests users talk to friends in person or over the phone to avoid an impersonator sweeping in via email or chat to access your account. Trusted contacts can be chosen via Security Settings within your account at any time. Once the names are set, Facebook will notify them so they can be ready to step in and help when the time comes.
Sure, the company says this will “take the worry about remembering the answer to your security question or filling out long web forms to prove who you are,” but wouldn’t it be a greater hassle (and take more time) to involve your friends to recover your account? And what if one of the three contacts is sleeping or out of town? Sounds like a headache. But at least you’ll have the option.
“While you may trust your friend from pre-school who is on sabbatical in Borneo, it might be a better choice to select the people you know that you’ll be able to reach,” Facebook said in response.