A Which? Money’s investigation today found a rise in social media scammers and identity theft online – and put the onus on social media platforms to stop them.
This follows the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at Demos last week advising verifying the identities of every social media user to fight trolls and fake news. Mitek, experts in identity verification, believe this approach could also stop rising social media fraud and identity theft.
In the below comment Joe outlines how this might take shape, how it would impact consumers, and whether platforms or an independent body are best placed to solve the problem.
Social media platforms are a hotbed for fraudsters. Scam accounts advertising stolen identities and people’s personal details are running rampant on our social media feeds. This threat needs to be stamped out.
Just last week, the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at Demos suggested that we should verify the identities of every social media user in the UK. If social media platforms verified users’ identities, they would know that we are really who we say we are when we sign up. This would help curb online scammers, identity theft, and fraud, as well as trolling and even fake news.
When creating an account, users can upload a selfie and a picture of an ID document, like a passport or drivers’ license. Identity verification technologies are then used to check the document for forgery, and verify that the selfie and ID photo belong to the same person. ‘Liveness detection’ adds another layer of protection, ensuring that the selfie is being taken there and then by the users. However, with billions of us already signed up to the major platforms, it won’t be enough to simply verify new users. The platforms could also prompt existing users to go through the same process when they log onto the app as a ‘rebinding’ exercise.
But there is a spanner in the works for well-meaning social platforms: 75% of consumers distrust social media platforms with their identity, according to our data. As such, creating an independent, non-governmental body to verify identities on social media would circumvent this mistrust. This would be a major step in reducing the threat of fraud online, and stamping out scammers for good.