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Facebook buys identification technology company as it bids to 'keep community safe'

Facebook is buying a software company that allows it quickly verify that someone’s identification documentation is authentic.

Boston-based Confirm’s technology pulls information from ID documents, including biometric data, and could help Facebook learn more about those that buy ads on its network. 

Facebook said that Confirm’s “technology and expertise will support our ongoing efforts to keep our community safe.”

It comes after widespread alarm after Facebook said it suspected that Russian agents had paid for ads to influence the 2016 presidential election. Moscow denies the allegations.

This month, Facebook bowed to pressure from MPs and said it would further investigate allegations that the Brexit vote was also targetted with fake news by Russia.

The company has said it plans to require anyone buying election-related adverts on the world’s largest social network to provide identification. Buying ads has historically required little more than a Facebook page and a credit card.

Facebook could potentially use its newly acquired technology to confirm their identities if they’re locked out of their accounts after being hacked or losing their password. 

In a statement, Confirm said: When we launched Confirm, our mission was to become the market’s trusted identity origination platform for which other multifactor verification services can build upon. 

“Now, we’re ready to take the next step on our journey with Facebook. However, in the meantime, this means all of our current digital ID authentication software offerings will be wound down.”

Facebook came under renewed fire this week over the spread of fake news on its platform.

The company defended itself on Wednesday after it emerged that its survey intended to gauge users’ trust in online publications contained just two questions: “Do you recognise the following websites?” and, “How much do you trust each of these domains?” 

It came as part of Facebook’s recently announced overhaul of its news feed – a change that will mean news is featured less prominently than it is currently.

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