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Why social media needs a decentralized ID verification solution

Why social media needs a decentralized ID verification solution
 

By Lars Seier Christensen, Chairman of Concordium

As more aspects of our lives are moved to social media platforms – from friendly interactions to business transactions – the importance of profile verification tools increases dramatically. With a click of a button, social media allows potential employers, friends, roommates, and even strangers to access personal information and make judgements that can have real-world consequences.

Individual users aren’t the only ones who are concerned about identity theft and deception online. Corporations also have a vested interest in verifying the identity of accounts for transaction security and fraud prevention.

With the development of Web3, the newest decentralized iteration of the internet, and greater adoption of the Metaverse, identity verification will have increasing importance for socialization. In this context, centralized authorities will be unable to meet the demands of consumers. Users need a secure, reliable, and decentralized identity verification solution to protect their personal information and reputation.

Protecting against AI’s boom

Imposter scams and identity theft have long been a risk for internet users – from catfishing to phishing emails and celebrity imposters. Users have developed an awareness of these dangers, while platforms have created safeguards to protect consumers.

Advancements in generative AI could drastically increase the scale and effectiveness of this kind of deception, enhancing the ability of imposters to mimic voices, generate text and create human-like images. The proliferation of deepfakes, which are frighteningly convincing, has the potential to ruin individuals’ reputations as impersonators can make fake evidence of offensive comments or provocative actions.

Draw decentralized ID models into this equation, and the situation changes. The deep fakes created to wreak havoc on social media users are easily identifiable when compared to profiles boasting blockchain-verified ID authentication. As blockchain-enabled IDs are authenticated through a distributed ledger, profiles verified by this technology can be completely trusted. Using a decentralized ID verification solution, therefore, nullifies the impact of these deep fake profiles, protecting the human user from this increasingly prevalent issue.

The working world needs decentralized ID

Developments in artificial intelligence could also drive demand for digital ID verification from corporations. With over 930 million users on LinkedIn, and 117 applications submitted every second, social media has become increasingly important in talent recruitment, driving demand for a tool that allows employers to filter out fake accounts and verify credentials. Further, fake LinkedIn profiles have become such a prolific issue surrounding scams and frauds that the FBI have categorized them as a “significant threat.”

A decentralized ID solution gives recruiters the ability to verify employee credentials and profiles more effectively than traditional ID solutions. By leveraging an ID solution enabled by an immutable blockchain, rather than a centralized entity, recruiters can rely on a technology that is completely independent, unbiased, and trustworthy. Furthermore, candidates can rest assured that recruiters are fully verified by an immutable blockchain, reducing fraudulent activities on a platform entrenched in modern working life.

Digital ID bolsters trust in the Metaverse

The Metaverse, an emerging online space enabling a virtual reality experience, offers a unique opportunity for individuals across the world to interact and socialize in an enhanced real-world-like setting. Metaverse platforms have attracted investment from companies like Google, Meta, and Microsoft, but the virtual reality world also presents new cybersecurity concerns for users and developers.

Individuals interact on the metaverse via avatars, creating the potential for impersonation as bad actors can hide behind these personas. The monetization of digital collectibles and avatars in the metaverse could also incentivize scams putting intellectual property at risk and undermining trust on these platforms.

Establishing a secure, reliable, and decentralized ID solution would provide a much-needed level of safety for users in the metaverse. Given the overlap in interest between virtual reality and crypto users, the same privacy concerns are prominent, and as such a trust-minimized solution is most likely to gain popularity and engagement.

While this new iteration of the internet breaks down the barriers to entrepreneurship, allowing more individuals to take ownership of their assets, security remains an issue on Web3 platforms. In the first quarter of 2023, the crypto industry suffered over $477 million in losses due to exploits, hacks, and other scams. Digital ID verification has the potential to secure transactions on Web3 platforms, paving the way for greater adoption from Web2 users and institutions.

Why decentralization matters

The problem with traditional methods of ID verification is that these tools are controlled by centralized authorities, and are designed with the interests of the platform in mind. Upon take-over as CEO, Elon Musk changed Twitter’s blue check system to a pay-to-play verification scheme, unintentionally allowing online trolls to obtain blue checks for accounts impersonating celebrities. Likewise, social media platforms earn income from collecting user data, and ID verification could present yet another opportunity to harvest sensitive information.

Decentralized ID verification offers an alternative user-centric solution that is independent of social media platforms and therefore not subject to the whims of whoever is CEO. One aspect of decentralized ID verification that could be used with social media sites specifically is the advent of zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs). This blockchain-enabled technology allows users to verify their identity without revealing any unnecessary personal information. With big tech companies continually selling our data and private information to advertisers, this would allow both users and platforms to optimize security and user privacy.

It is in the interest of legacy platforms to accept decentralized ID verification, sacrificing control for continued engagement on their platforms. The emergence of decentralized Web3 platforms, like former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s Blue Sky app, presents competition for legacy platforms, which will need to address consumers’ privacy concerns to maintain their user base. Otherwise, users will have a clear alternative to secure their privacy and identity.

The future of digital ID

Digital ID verification functions for many use cases and different actors, from individual users to organizations and corporations. Traditionally, account verification has been the prerogative of social media platforms, with verifying policies and tools. Now with decentralized solutions, users can take verification into their own hands, independently verifying accounts to protect their identity and defend against fraud. This technology will lay the groundwork for further decentralization of the internet, enabling the growth of Web3 projects and virtual reality platforms.

About the author

Lars Seier Christensen is Chairman of Concordium, the Layer 1, science-backed blockchain creating a safer digital world.

DISCLAIMER: Biometric Update’s Industry Insights are submitted content. The views expressed in this post are that of the author, and don’t necessarily reflect the views of Biometric Update.

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