UK nightclub bouncers demanding access to your Facebook profile as a condition of entry

What's more invasive than your dickhead employer demanding to go snooping in your Facebook account as a condition of employment? Jerky bouncers at clubs demanding the right to snoop in your Facebook account as a condition of entry. The BBC's Maddii Lown reports:

Charlotte said bouncers had checked that her Facebook name matched her driving licence.

"I kind of just logged onto it [Facebook] and showed him the screen and then he didn't question it any further," explained Charlotte.

"When it happened the first time I didn't really think anything of it.

"Then I thought, 'Hang on, is this really how you're supposed to check how old I am?' But I was out and I wanted to get in the club so I just agreed."

The article goes on to quote a doorman who brings out the old chestnut, "If you're not doing anything wrong you shouldn't have a problem," and then erroneously says that he'd get a fine if someone got in with fake ID.

Bouncers 'checking Facebook on phones' as identification


  1. Did they remember to check for keyloggers and such before logging in? Sounds like Mr. Bouncer is about to go stalker…

    1. It’s pretty quaint that you assumed the club was providing a computer to log onto Facebook with. The bouncers were requesting that they be shown the phones of customers logged into Facebook.

  2. Now I’ll have to remember to borrow my friend’s phone when I borrow their ID.

  3. What do they do for people who don’t want to sell their souls to zuckerberg?

    1. If they’re suspicious of your ID and you can’t prove your identity to their liking, then they won’t let you in. Pretty simple.

      1. You miss the point.

        It isn’t an ID check, it’s a test for submissiveness.

        She got in because she’s willing to show some gelled-up douchenozzle with a spray tan her relationship status without a second thought.

        1.  This. Big man with a little power for a little while who likes to pretend that he’s the puppet master.

        2. On the basis that you think bouncers have spray-tans, I’m going to go out on a limb and say you don’t know anything about the context of this story.

        3.  “some gelled-up douchenozzle with a spray tan”
          this is not a common look for the UK breed of bouncer.

  4. Not really access is it? It appears that a couple of bouncers were checking IDs to FB profiles. Kinda clever really. It’s not 
    erroneous to claim that the doorstaff would get a fine if underage kids get in. So does the licensee and the doorstaff would probably get the sack, too.

    1.  I don’t know what the rules are like in the UK, but that kind of thing could get a club in SF shut down.  Cops come in, do a sweep, the people with the false IDs lose them, cops then accuse the club of letting in the underage on purpose.

    1. Ah, but now they’ll anticipate the fake Facebook account and demand to see your Google+ instead!

    2.  Bouncers ask random questions to try to trip up kids who haven’t thought about it very hard.  A classic one is “what year were you born?”… if they have to calculate to get it from their claimed age, you know something’s wrong.  (Either that, or you’re talking to someone like me whose brain freezes up randomly whenever it’s not supposed to.)

  5. This… seems perfectly normal to me? Like the guy suspected Charlotte was lying about her age, thought her ID was fake, and came up with an easy way for her to prove it wasn’t. I don’t really think that bringing up your facebook page on your phone and holding it so that he can see is an invasion of privacy. After all, she had just shown him her driver’s license.

      1. So what title do we refer to you with? “Your Highness” “Your majesty?”

  6. Of course the bouncer was probably being a dick, as bouncers are wont to do, but I find it hard to get too riled up about this one. Seems like the modern equivalent of the old “Okay, if that’s your birthday, what’s your sign?” gambit.

  7. I’m disappointed in Boing Boing for being a bit hysterical.  This sounds like a cute trick to catch underage drinkers.  He’s not asking for your actual password like the employers in the other article, he’s asking him to flash you your Facebook screen to see if the names match.

    The bar does get fined if they are caught serving underage kids, and gets into worse trouble if those underage kids are later involved in an accident.  The bouncer would likely get fired for such an event.  So yes, there are potential real consequences (to the doorman) for the doorman failing at his job.  Doormen employ tricks to try to catch underage kids – this sounds like as reasonable a one as any.

    1. Yeah, hysterical. I always find the best thought out arguments begin with an emotional appeal about difference from tribal norms.

    2. the biggest problem for me: why is facebook being used as the default for online identity verification? 

      it at least takes some effort to create a fake i.d. or passport. 

      1.  I could ask: when my sister needs to find a house, why does she call the people who live there and ask them to direct her through the streets (with the phone stuck to her ear) when she has a perfectly usable GPS with turn by turn navigation. Maybe the answer is the social aspect. She would rather be talking to her friends, and facebook is also about relationships. A person may be less likely to forge their FB profile than to forge a plastic card, because they are known by that profile.

        Zuckerberg is now worth 92 billion US dollars.

    3.  It’s not reasonable if the Beeb has already found out about it. Kids will figure out ways to hack around it almost instantly, as many in this thread already have. The reasonable thing to do would be to put the onus for having a fake ID onto the presenter, as long as the bar could show due diligence in checking them.

    1. One is a government run system.  The other is an optional nightclub entry.  the government is prohibited from doing many things that commercial organisations are allowed to do.

      1.  The government run system gives the person money the nightclub just makes sure they are of age. Which one should be more useful to prevent fraud and misrepresentation. Checking for Disability or underage.

      2. And yet a government issued ID is all the government needs, but a drinking hole needs that backed up with Facebook.

        And there are people in this comment thread that still don’t get it.

    2. Stop reading “Washington Times” and your I.Q. will jump up a few points.

  8. Assorted, didn’t you know? Outrage is the oil of the attention economy, and sites like BoingBoing and Reddit are its middle east.

  9. I just wanted to weigh in as someone who works in a nightclub. We seriously want people to come down and enjoy yourself on a night out, but we also have to make sure everyone is of legal drinking age. We understand not everyone has a passport or driving license or valid university ID, so if we need you to prove your age by asking what day of the week your birthday was or what star sign you are or by looking at your Facebook  then please let us. We’re not asking for your log-in details or trying to invade your privacy, we’re just trying to curb underage drinking as it’s coming up to the summer holidays.

    1. If you use FB as “proof” of someone being of the age a majority you need to be raided and shut down already.  If they do not have ID, or you think the ID is fake deny them entry. 
      I want you picture standing before a Judge saying, but Facebook said it was okay!
      Do you think a Judge will accept that?  Want to buy a statue in NY?  Its big and green…

      1.  They don’t use FB to prove age, they use it to verify identity. Completely different use.

          1.  And you, are not paying attention.  Go back, and re-read what the man said.  Oh hell, let me explain it to you: kids being kids, are *very stupid*, most of them have not spent more than five minutes thinking about how they’re going to beat the doorman, and if the doorman asks a couple of random questions, they’ll very quickly be able to judge whether the punk is trying to con them.  “Show me the name on your screen right now” is a nice creative question.

            We would indeed be living in a better world it that question were as off limits as “show me your tits”, but this is a different issue.

            You might try working the nightclub racket for a couple of weeks before you start giving them advice.  You also might try wearing a leg brace, your knee is jerking like crazy.

      2. It’s not a question of not having ID, or thinking the ID is fake, but checking that the genuine ID they’ve just shown you actually belongs to them. A lot of under-age drinkers use ID that is valid, but belongs to an elder sibling. Having a look at the name that comes up when they log into their facebook from their phone is just a quick way of making sure the ID they’ve just shown you belongs to them; they don’t need to give you their details, hand the phone to you or do anything beyond click the facebook app in front of you and then show you their profile page. Even then, the information they show you need be no more in depth than the information that would come up in a standard search on facebook; all the bouncers want to check is that the name that comes up when they open facebook on their phone is the same as that which is written on their ID. It’s not foolproof, just a way of eliminating doubt.

        There are many, many reasons to get upset about abuses of privacy by those in positions of authority. This isn’t one of them, I’m afraid.

        1. If you have questions about it being their ID, deny them entry.
          To make Facebook some defacto goto tool to “make sure” means your bouncers should be sacked.

          I am pretty well versed in creating online identities, several of them stand up to casual examination.  I’m not that gifted, if I can do it others can to.  A Judge isn’t going to care that “Well the Facebook name matched”, a Judge is going to rip up your license and fine you.

          Had you considered the creepy factor of your saving a bouncer who thinks you have nice tits from trying to figure out which “Jane Smith” on Facebook you are?

          If you have doubt… KEEP THEM OUT.

          See this is abuse of privacy by someone NOT in a position of authority.  They decide if you get to go into a club or not, but they have no problem demanding you jump through more hoops than required by law for entry.  How soon till they “need” something more?

          1. Actually, a person is liable under the law for serving or allowing an underage person on a licensed premises only as long as their ID, when requested, would not have fooled a reasonable person.

            Noone looks like their photo ID; chances are the photo was taken several years previously (which in the case of a 20 year old is a big difference), in glaring light and without heavy make-up. Saying “I was 95% sure it was the same person” is not going to get you sympathy from a judge, saying “I was 95% sure so I asked her to verify her name by showing me her facebook profile as a surprise check” could very well make the difference between being prosecuted and not.

            “If you have doubt… keep them out” is a great idea, but if you were absolutely honest you would never be able to let anyone in, short of DNA testing all your customers and comparing to a government database, which I’m pretty sure we can agree noone wants. My own passport photo was taken 9 years ago, when I had longer hair, didn’t have several scars that I do now and was a lot paler and skinnier. It’s fine for most verification purposes, including letting me into other countries, but in all honesty the photo could be of my brother.

            What difference does it make if the bouncer knows which Jane Smith you are? If you’re worried about it, keep your publically searchable information at a minimum (which you should do anyway), and don’t say yes to his friend request. What’s he going to do? Masturbate furiously to the thumbnail of your profile picture? I’d be more worried about drunken pervs with cameras in the club itself.

            Shit, if you want to get upset about something, get upset about this: – fingerprint verification systems for nightclubs, which are already in use across the country. If a bouncer using publically available information on facebook to double-check IDs of those he’s 95% sure are legal (otherwise they would just be turned away, no need to check anything else) means that the club doesn’t get into trouble when the local police department decides it’s low on cash and starts raiding pubs and clubs, and as a result, isn’t asked to install a fingerprint verification system by the licensing authority as a condition of their next license, I’m all for it.

          2.  “To make Facebook some defacto goto tool”, my god, you’re right!  Except that it isn’t a defacto tool, it’s just one question, asked by one doorman, on one night.

            But don’t let me get in the way of your over the top political ranting.  Occasions for this are so few on the internet, it’s hard to see how you could resist.

    2. So essentially you’ve made having a facebook account a requirement for club entry. If I don’t have an FB account for any of a thousand very legitimate reasons, I’m denied entry? In that case I’m happy not to belong to clubs that wouldn’t have me as a member.

    3. I’ve done doorman work over the years.  If she appeared underage you could just ask her to show you her other cards (bank, school id etc.) to prove that it’s her, instead of something like Facebook.  If she won’t do it or seems sketchy you could just tell her sorry and deny entry.  Then you can be called a “dick” by that poster up above, because to self-entitled partiers, following the law is being a “dick as bouncers are wont to do”.  This outcome is better than having an enjoyable place to many law abiding patrons, and the livelihood of many employees shut down by the city because you got caught serving somebody underage.  And yes, contrary to weird assumptions, if you serve minors, or even allow them in the bar and are caught, you are fucked.

      1. Actually, I’ve spent a couple years of my life as a bouncer, that much again as a bar owner, so I’m not speaking as a “self-entitled partier,” but rather as someone who’s been there.  Notice I expressly *didn’t* have a problem with the policy?  It’s a tough job with serious consequences for both the doorman and the house; this facebook check seems to me like a clever way to do that job diligently.
        That said, if you’ve really “done doorman work over the years” and don’t think it attracts more than its fair share of dicks (same with police work, same with the TSA), then you’ve either been extremely lucky in the places you’ve worked, or you’re completely deluded.

        1. That said, if you’ve really “done doorman work over the years” and don’t think it attracts more than its fair share of dicks (same with police work, same with the TSA), then you’ve either been extremely lucky in the places you’ve worked, or you’re completely deluded.

          3 different places, and currently work a weekly doorman shift.  Perhaps if you as a bar owner attracted “dicks” then it might have something to do with yourself and the kind of establishment you operated.  Amateur establishments attract amateurs I guess. Good bars run by good people usually don’t need to advertise for staff or deal with un-vetted applicants.

          1. Wow, now I’m a bad person attracting other bad people to my “amateur establishment?”
            I ran a mellow place, for mellow people. I would have thought my initial comment would tip you off to my feelings about stereotypical “tough-guy” bouncers.  It’s not like I hired them, or even advertised for the position (your psychic powers notwithstanding).  When they inquired on their own, I politely demurred, I said “No openings right now,” I gave them a graceful way out — you know, the way good doormen do.

            Whatever; I maintain my contention that any line of work that lets people exert control over other people will draw an inordinate number of, yes, dicks for whom that control is the attraction.  I’m not saying it’s all bouncers. I’m not even saying it’s you.

            Here, buddy, this one’s on the house.  You have a great evening. ;)

    4.  Alex, I don’t mean to join the pile-on, but please don’t do this. Your establishment may lose its license, and you will almost certainly get fines or jail if you accept this as a form of ID. I understand that some places are under pressure to bring in as many attractive young people, particularly women, as they can, but believe me, the owner isn’t going to take the heat for this if he/she can help it.

      1. This isn’t being used ‘as a form of ID’. It’s a way of checking the already presented ID is for the person that is standing in front of you. They’re only doing this if they suspect that the ID belongs to someone else.

        1. Not everyone has Facebook, it’s also not a verifiable form of identification.

          Imagine the scenario:

          Kid borrows brothers ID, asked to show Facebook by bouncer, says ‘I don’t have a Facebook’ to bouncer.

          What then? Refused entry due to lack of Facebook?

          It’s pointless AND invasive.

          1.  No, then the next question is any one of a number of possible random questions, of which this is one. “Have you got any other ID I can compare this to?” or “Could you show me your cash card?” If they have facebook, and can show you, awesome, you get to let them in and they get to have a great night. If not (or if they don’t want to show you), you see if there’s any other way they can prove their ID is real.

            If they can’t verify that the ID they have just shown you is them some how, you turn them away. The method of verification itself is pretty immaterial.

            Again, this is only one of a number of random checks and even then will only be used in very rare cases where the person looks so young that there’s a real possibility that the otherwise genuine-looking ID is fake, or where there’s enough difference between the photo on the ID and the person that there’s room for doubt as to whether it’s actually them or a sibling.

            So it’s not a “no facebook, no entry!” policy at all, it’s “in the unlikely event that we have cause to doubt the ID you present us, we might, in isolated instances, ask to see if you have a facebook account that matches, or ask you if you have any other matching ID, or ask to see your cash card or use any one of a number of different ways to assess whether you’re telling the truth, because our livelihoods and the livelihoods of all the staff in the building depend on us being reasonably sure that this is a genuine ID, being presented by the person who it actually belongs to.”

            Of course, screaming outrage is far easier than looking at a situation in any kind of context, so you go right ahead and keep shouting about the sky falling.

    5. If they’ve shown you ID, and you believe it to be false, then call the police, that’s fraud.

      There are guidelines for checking a patrons age, anything beyond that is a power trip; you’re not liable if you’ve verified their age through reasonable means. Facebook would mean sod-all in court anyway.

  10. Anybody who would put up with this kind of thing to be permitted to enter a nightclub deserves what life will doubtless continue to offer them.

  11. she probably posted this incident on her wall, while facebook worked on new & improved ways to violate user privacy and commodify user data.

  12. As a recently graduated college student in a college town, I’ve gotten completely used to either showing a backup ID for an out-of-state license, or having my ID put through a nifty scanning thing that validates it. I don’t know precisely what the technology is on the ID-scanners, but that sounds a lot better and more precise than checking someone’s facebook. If they’re worried enough about having underage drinkers, then they’d invest in some of those.

    1. They aren’t concerned about the ID being fake, but that it belongs to someone else. The drivers licence is probably valid, but it might be for an older sibling or a friend.

  13. I’m with the “meh” crowd on this one. It’s fairly standard practice amongst under-age drinkers to use an elder sibling’s ID to gain access to a club. Facebook isn’t being used to actually verify age, just as a spot check to make sure that the person’s facebook mobile account logs in under the same name as the ID they’ve just shown you. Women in particular, thanks to the joys of make up, can look like a different person in ID photos when compared to their fully dolled-up Saturday night selves.

    The bouncer’s not accessing the account beyond looking at the name on the profile page. It’s entirely different to an employer making decisions on whether or not to hire an employee based on in-depth rummaging through their facebook history; the bouncer isn’t collating any information and I seriously doubt whether he or she would  be interested in anything other than the name.

    The alternative is taking the ID at face value and then losing your job and getting both the bartenders and licensee heavy fines (with full personal liability) if the police decide to raid a venue. Would checking the names on all their cashcards inspire the same ire? This just seems like a fairly smart way of double-checking a seemingly valid ID’s legitimacy.

    1. And it’s trivial to create a dummy Facebook account. They’re using ana online service that does absolutely nothing to verify names of account holders to verify identity.

      1. Quite a lot of young people are in a position where they can borrow an older friend or sibling’s ID. Far fewer of them would think of going to the hassle of creating a fake account and filling it with sockpuppet friends, logging out of their real facebook (with all the loss of communication that implies) and using the fake one, just on the off chance a bouncer happens to ask them about it, although that will change now the tactic has gotten media exposure.

        It’s not meant to be an age verification check in of itself, it’s meant to catch out people on borrowed ID who haven’t thought to create a watertight fake online persona to back up their fake ID, which I guess would have been the majority of them, at least until the media started bleating about it…

        1. I find it hard to believe that Kids These Days(tm) are so lazy as to not take the 10 minutes to create a dummy account that will useful to them for years. In fact I expect it’s already been happening.

          The bottom line is that using a social media account to verify actual identity is dumb and I doubt it’ll hold up in court for the club that gets burned.

          1. ” I doubt it’ll hold up in court for the club that gets burned.” It isn’t supposed to, and is unlikely to ever get mentioned in court.  What it’s supposed to do is make sure that if the cops do a sweep, they don’t find anyone inside who’s underage.  That’s it. Neither is this “standard practice” or some such, it’s just a random question, in a whole stack of possible random questions, that the doorman might ask.

    2. I’m pretty sure that if the Bouncer does appropriate checks of the ID that’s enough. The kid would be done for fraud, they wouldn’t be chasing the bouncer for not persuing a full investigation into their identity.

  14. Unless a job, one can get by easily without going clubbing. 

    What those people (as vs. employers) choose to do is their business.

    Also having  a Facebook page unless you need it for some business or personal  reason is foolish. Its an invite to privacy invasion. If you do  need to have such a page, you also need to censor everything you put down and control as much information about yourself as you can.

    Given that we live in  increasingly low trust societies many of which have authoritarian traits  you have to assume people are suspicious and power hungry and act accordingly.

    We also need to get some privacy legislation passed and eventually we need some kind of Darknet too but that’s another thing.

  15. Oh, and Cory:


    “145Unaccompanied children prohibited from certain premises(1)A person to whom subsection (3) applies commits an offence if—
    (a)knowing that relevant premises are within subsection (4), he allows an unaccompanied child to be on the premises at a time when they are open for the purposes of being used for the supply of alcohol for consumption there, or
    (b)he allows an unaccompanied child to be on relevant premises at a time between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. when the premises are open for the purposes of being used for the supply of alcohol for consumption there.
    (2)For the purposes of this section—
    (a)“child” means an individual aged under 16,
    (b)a child is unaccompanied if he is not in the company of an individual aged 18 or over.
    (3)This subsection applies—
    (a)to any person who works at the premises in a capacity, whether paid or unpaid, which authorises him to request the unaccompanied child to leave the premises,
    (b)in the case of licensed premises, to—
    (i)the holder of a premises licence in respect of the premises, and
    (ii)the designated premises supervisor (if any) under such a licence,

    blah blah blah

    …(9)A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.”

    So not an “erroneous”  claim at all. A level 3 fine is £1000 and he would be personally liable for paying it, in addition to losing his job.

    1. From what I understand it would be the barman that gets fined, not the bouncer.

      Not that anyone would know without spending time analysing that pile of legalese.

      1. Under UK law, it’s one fine each for the license holder and the bouncer for letting them in, and then it’s (iirc) one fine for each drink the bartender serves them. So a £3000 fine is the least you would get away with…

  16. too bad for those that either a) don’t have a facebook account, or b) do have one but don’t have access on their phone (And before you all go who doesn’t have access on their phone….I don’t, and never will. I have enough computers, tablets etc that all I need is my phone to be my phone- not my i.d., not my link to the internet, not my camera, not my music player, just my phone!)

  17. Never hand over any personal objects to a bouncer. Hold it in your hand and do not let them have it. Never give in to no entry. Leave. Do not hand your personal items over to a bouncer. They are more or less thugs to begin with.

    1.  Cram it, BombBlast. I was a bouncer, and outside of Woody Allen, I’m the least thuggish person you’ll ever meet.

    2.  UK door-staff, at least the ones I’ve encountered, are polite and pleasant professionals and their presence makes me feel safer when I’m out partying.

      If your locality does not have adequate professional licensing requirements for bouncers, that’s a problem you need to take to your elected representatives.

  18. This is brilliant, yano, because facebook’s verification process is a lot more comprehensive, than that of state issued ID. Especially, since you need to be 13 to have a FB. 

  19. I think actually this story highlights the fear that the 2003-2005 licensing act put up everyone working in and around licensed premises. 24 hour licensing meant the government put their foot down on underage sales and reaped thousands of pounds in fines from licensed premises.

    I worked in an off license when they brought it in, and around that time the licensing bods would send test purchasers round to catch out the staff, who often aren’t much past 18 years old as it is and were easy to catch out.

    If you’re caught selling booze to someone under 18, a fine of up to £5000 can be imposed, and the premise license may be revoked.

    We were told that the fine would be taken from the person selling the booze and from the license holder, and so had to ID pretty much everyone just to make sure that we weren’t caught out. We would only accept a driving license or passport; to make doubly sure, and I frequently had rows with cheap cider purchasing spotty youths. The concept of being fined up to five grand made us all vigilant and to be honest, kept us on edge.

    I now work as a nightclub bouncer (amongst other things) and still ID people thoroughly, only accepting a current passport or driving license. I’m only 25 myself and am sometimes a bit embarrassed when I IDd girls who are older than me but it still needs doing, just in case. The licensing authorities enforcers are worse than a bouncer on a power trip, if they think they have something on you they will just fine away. 

    fair enough, it may not be me getting the £5,000 fine for making an underage sale if I let someone in; as the bartenders should also be double checking anyone who looks young. But if an underage sale takes place then it’s £5,000 from the place I work which, considering the economic climate and the current trend to just get pissed at home, would probably send the club under and put a lot of people out of work. 

    The same would happen if they lost their license. 

    I don’t advocate at all what this doorman did, but I do think that faced with a form of ID he didn’t recognise, he was more than likely just using the tools to hand to confirm the girl’s age in order to not just send her on her way; which is quite a nice thing to do. I don’t think this is an asshole bouncer/big brother story, I don’t really think it’s sinister it’s just a response to a combination of fear of the licensing authorities/potential of losing a job and novel use of an almost ubiquitously used cache of personal information which the vast majority of society freely signs up to without much thought.

    He didn’t ask for her password and at the most if she comes into the club again, he will just be able to greet her by her first name. 

    If she’d come to my club with a form of ID that wasn’t a passport or driving license, I’d have sent her packing. 

    so yeah, a response from a british bouncer. 

    Just bring your passport/driving license, and don’t get so off your face drunk that you lose it. 




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