Onfido is arguing that identity verification technology can help reduce misinformation and hate speech in online spaces. Company Co-Founder and CEO Husayn Kassai makes the case in a guest article for the Forbes Technology Council, suggesting that people would be more reticent to express hateful views if they knew that they could be traced back to their personal accounts.
As it stands, there are very few barriers to entry for those making a social media profile, a process that often requires little more than an email address and a name. That allows trolls and other bad actors to engage with relative anonymity, and those who harass others seldom face consequences for their actions.
Cybersecurity experts have developed CAPTCHA tech (and other similar solutions) to crack down on bots, but the path forward is less clear in the case of real human beings. That’s where Kassai argues that digital identity can play an important role, implying that the same Know Your Customer solutions used to safeguard financial transactions could just as easily provide a degree of accountability on social media platforms.
At the very least, it would make it easier to investigate criminal incidents, which will be increasingly important as countries like Germany pass laws that ban certain types of online behavior. According to Kassai, forcing users to verify their identity before posting – and to do so with liveness detection – would help investigators more than an IP address that could be faked through a VPN.
Of course, social media networks would need to be able to guarantee that the personal information of their users would remain safe, and there is reason to doubt their ability to do so given the ongoing struggles of companies like Facebook. Kassai nevertheless believes that companies like Onfido have a responsibility to stop the spread of hate and misinformation.
To that end, Onfido’s selfie authentication tech has already been used to secure everything from financial transactions to elections. It could provide social media platforms with a convenient identity verification option if they do decide to go that route.
December 10, 2019 – by Eric Weiss