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Every element of Elon Musk’s control of Twitter, there has been no shortage of headlines regarding the social media giant over the past few months. Twitter had a turbulent few months under its new ownership. there were layoffs (and rehires); changes to the user experience; and, of course, Twitter’s ongoing efforts to fix and monetize its user verification system.
After first launching in November, Twitter Blue, originally pitched as a revenue-generating scheme for the social media platform, quickly took an unexpected turn, attracting everyone from LeBron James to Lockheed Martin. Twitter pranksters jumped at the chance and paid $8 for verification and immediately began impersonating public figures and brands, tweeting loud and snarky messages that ended up costing companies billions.
The company has since revamped its Twitter Blue system, creating new verification badges designed to protect companies and governments from scammers, and a tagging system that shows what type of verification a user has. There is a waiting period for new accounts to sign up for Twitter Blue, as well as a mobile phone number requirement. That’s enough to stop the rapid fraud spree the company faced in November, but still not enough to stop a determined fraudster.
Blue tick does not always equal approved
Twitter’s struggle with user verification shows just how vulnerable the online world is to fraud. If a few boring individuals can take over the stock market with just a phone number and email address, imagine what a few organized bad actors can do. That’s not a risk Twitter or the economy can afford.
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The issue of game payment verification is an almost self-contained trap for social media companies, whose blue verification marks may be the most effective digital literacy tool developed in the last decade.
After years of convention, web users assume that a blue check comes with some verification behind it, even if the steps behind that verification are somewhat nebulous. Under Twitter’s old leadership, the blue check was more than a verification; it was validation, and the loss of a blue check was a frequently used punishment for extremists and individuals deemed to have violated Twitter’s policies.
If Musk and Twitter want to redefine the world of social media verification, they need to start by rethinking the verification process and changing their understanding of what Twitter Blue is and what it can be. Verification is not just a status that you pay for, but rather a status that users pay to prove.
Sacrificing safety for experience
According to the latest Twitter Blue update, Twitter treats the verification process as a transaction; a customer buys a product and Twitter needs to get it into their hands and into their account as quickly as possible. They want a frictionless customer experience, but sacrifice security as a result.
It’s a familiar concern. if the process takes too long or is too difficult, users may leave and companies may lose sales. This is why web optimization services are in such demand.
But Twitter isn’t the first company to test digital identities. The financial services industry, for example, faces Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations, and has still managed to accommodate digital onboarding, typically using a combination of biometrics and physical ID cards to match the real person. with a government-issued ID. Importantly, many banks can now verify users in minutes, if not seconds.
In fact, post-pandemic, more consumers than ever are accustomed to these forms of identity verification. Virtual identity verification is no longer an unknown concept for individuals or businesses, as the pandemic has forced hundreds of companies to decide on methods to build trust with customers while protecting their systems from fraud. From banks to car rentals to online shopping, there are dozens of use cases in the market that Twitter Blue can model itself.
Of course, the level of proof banks require before allowing a customer to open a checking account may not be what Twitter needs or wants for most of their users. While full identity verification may be an appropriate method for someone trying to create a Twitter account claiming to be a political candidate or CEO, it may not be the solution for a popular meme account.
This is where Twitter has the opportunity to break new ground when it comes to social media verification and determining which other fraud signals can seamlessly determine legitimacy while maintaining privacy and security values. That’s one area where the growing trend of digital wallets and identities could come in handy, allowing Twitter to look at some of the credentials that drive account legitimacy while maintaining the degree of anonymity that has made Twitter such an effective tool for social dialogue.
With a new verification system comes new forms of fraud, untapped and untested. Twitter Blue can work, but only if there is real verification behind it.
Yuelin Lee is Chief Product Officer Onfidoproduct, design and strategy control.
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