Can Your Facebook Profile Help You With Airline Travel?

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By Jesselle Maminta | December 26, 2013 12:04 PM EST

Travelers sit at departure lounge of Sanaa International Airport after airport was reopened CREDIT: REUTERS

A passenger apparently proved that you can use your Facebook profile as valid identification to get through airport security.

Zach Klein, co-founder of video site Vimeo and current CEO of DIY.org, recently shared via his Twitter account an instance during his air travel on Sunday, where he used his Facebook account in lieu of his ID.

"Got to the airport, realized I left my ID at home. TSA allowed me to use my Facebook profile instead," Klein wrote.

He later wrote he realized that the U.S. Transportation Security Agency (TSA) has a standing policy on "publicly available database."

"Apparently, this isn't remarkable. The TSA has a policy of using any 'publicly available database' to verify identity," Klein wrote further attaching a link to the TSA's list of acceptable IDs.

TSA Spokesman Ross Feinstein confirmed to Mashable's Adario Stange there is indeed a policy for the agency's use of publicly available database to confirm one's identity. The TSA posted in its official website the following: 

"Not having an ID does not necessarily mean a passenger won't be allowed to fly. If passengers are willing to provide additional information, we have other means of substantiating someone's identity, like using publicly available databases."

When Feinstein was asked for the list of social media sites that the agency accepts for identification, he replied with, "We don't utilize social media Web sites to confirm a passenger's identity. We use publicly available databases."

Stange noted the response did not directly answer the question, but he also notes that the definition of "publicly available databases" may vary depending on who defines it. 

"Traditionally, accounts on social networks such as Facebook have not been viewed as official forms of identification for U.S. government-related agencies, so Klein's apparent surprise regarding his TSA encounter is understandable," Stange wrote.

It can be recounted, however, that Facebook has been making new policies toward stricter identification policies. There was this one instance where some users were locked out of their Facebook accounts and required government identification to regain access. The same thing happened to some users of Facebook-owned photo-sharing site Instagram earlier this year. 

Despite these debates and although no similar policy has been rolled out in Australia and New Zealand, it's safe to say that there will come a time that your online profile may be accepted as a secondary ID. So it's best to keep your info accurate (and secure) enough to qualify as identification.  

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