I am looking for thoughts, advice or just plain chatting about some issues I think are important around startups/entrepreneurship and the problem of online identity.
It seems we're way ahead of ourselves in terms of spreading information, but way behind in terms of knowing if the person speaking is truly who they say.
This has created a situation where armies of fake profiles are collectively acting like masses of individuals spreading news and information on a personal level.
My work on this is just getting started, but I can already see there are thousands and thousands of fake accounts all parroting the same perfectly articulated political propaganda and it is all coming from large centralized sources.
These are profiles masquerading as citizens who live nearby to you, and share the same values and interests.
But they are not.
I'd like to exchange some thoughts, advice and others interested in this very important topic. Online Identity Verification is a 10B plus business today and I think it is just the start of solving the problem.
This is a topic of genuine interest to me. I've been doing identity/security work for over a decade now. Happy to share some analysis, ideas, thoughts and potential POCs with another genuine entrepreneur.
This is something I battle with given I have a majorly remote working style of functioning-from hiring to clientele to marketing to even payments. Ultimately I don't proceed even if there's a slight doubt, especially when people are interested initially and then suddenly vanish; as if they just wanted information and nothing else.
People use the liberty of anonymity to lie (for lack of a better word it seems appropriate) however it doesn't mean all do & it also doesn't mean that those in person always speak the truth. All this is fine up until it starts to pose a troublesome problem of identity theft, incorrect profiles, malicious cybercrime.
Same in the case of spreading news. Journalists can verify facts as per their taught research methodologies, however if an informer does offer them incorrect news pieces; there's little that they can do too. Fake news is even more jeopardising given there are several masses affected by it.
However do note that newspaper ads are never vetted for authenticity. Once a reader goes by the ad and is duped; well the very same journalists want a bite. How about verify everything before you publish & save the crime from occurring in the first place?
Fake job scenarios, money swindling schemes and get rich quick schemes are around galore.
If there's any way you think you can salvage this entire background check & authenticate the person's identity & verify the integrity on the basis of credentials for any other parameters, then I'm all ears (for the first case of businesses) & for fake news well, there are many firms that are working on it. I think it's dutiful for every individual to know right from wrong & once identified-block, report & make it known to the site owners; so remedial steps can be undertaken-of course the assumption here is that some remedial action is actually undertaken (that's a different story whether it is or isn't)
Amit -- ShoCard is very interesting! And I've seen some neat stuff from keybase.io as well. Blockchaining and basically tying down to the metal is a solid way to ensure private communications, and therefore identity assurance.
apologies for anyone trying to message me - for some days now, I have not been able to respond! The messages present but then it seems they are never delivered and I can't see them when I log in later. So, if you are wondering write to email@example.com and we can connect there as well.
My personal opinion is that no one has solved this problem for a couple reasons. One, people like the ability to publish with few personal consequences. Two, people don't really want to be scrutinized (submit to verification) unless there is a very specific personal benefit to doing so. Three, people aren't very interested in the truth. What they're interested in is information that supports their personal beliefs, regardless of whether it's truthful or not. And lastly, your personal truth is not necessarily the same as THE truth. That's very hard for most people to see.
A fluid identity is something that has appeal, and like putting in a timeclock at work after people have been able to come and go without punching the clock for years, those people who like a change/changing identities are going to resist things that try to limit the fluidity of identity now that they've had freedom.
Paul, true people don't much like to do stuff without benefit, but if one could share a set of verified personal information on say, a dating service - it would be a way to share verified personal information without giving away personally identifying information which is useful. Certainly a lot of people would LIKE to be verified by Twitter, but their process is really only for famous people.
Come see me pitch tonight in NYC a new unique and never before possible self-serve identity verification for business.
Sheeba, indeed, Newspapers never had such validity, but they had a framework behind them. You can't masquerade as a neighbor speaking their mind about political issues!
And yes, Journalists can verify facts, but that was always the case and they do their best whenever possible. But this is really about WHO is saying what. I mean, what we face are masses of mannequins masquerading as neighbors or friends and this is what I think we must stop.
Even this site here, I get a few emails a month that are obviously Phishing scams, and it doesn't bother me but someone on here IS getting fleeced or these folks would not be here pretending to be investors or whatever it is.
So, it seems nearly every online service suffers from a lack of authenticity online.
I guess the question becomes, are businesses really interested in fixing the problem?
I think the answer has to be Yes.
I doubt Twitter profits so much from fake profiles, it's really they have NO WAY to verify the vast majority of accounts. Basically, they can only afford to verify famous people and you can see why.
I think a self-serve solution is the only way to verify because it puts each of us in charge of our own validity and ultimately, leaves spam and phishing people to look more as they would in real life -- untrustworthy and not worth your time to listen to.
Yes Jesse, I just shared in what I've witnessed & experienced within my network of professionals & within immediate family and friends.
Journalists' framework isn't all effective if deepfakes have become so rampant. There are loopholes and that's why you're considering it to be a business opportunity in the running.
The masquerade, well freedom of expression is great and must be had but not at the cost of committing a crime.
I don't know if firms want to fix this, but once it starts eating into their chunk of margins and possible damage to the firm's repute to the level of litigations-perhaps then yes. As far as social media firms having a method to check an account's authenticity-Twitter itself does roll out campaigns on how to identify fake account handles. The rest is upto users to add and vet only those who are of non-malicious intent.
On phishing scams here, well I'm glad not to have had any in my Inbox as yet; & no they don't bother the educated & alert ones; but there's a good chance they're thriving because someone is getting fleeced. And just so you know, even face to face fleecing is common amongst the banking, insurance & real estate industries who knowingly do it, because they work with the odds that a litigation won't ever happen (speak from experience yet again-& I am very particular & process oriented: yet this happens to the Einsteins of the universe). There are many movies on this as well.
Many firms do it too with their employees, in case you're working on confidential projects and data. Once they start abusing this cyber power is when the actual crime begins. Again they live with the belief that no litigation will ever happen. But there's always a chance of it happening & they're completely out of business then. Again there are loads of movies on this too, especially on memes & trolls totally tarnishing celebrities online. I'd say those who voice their opinion openly on social media platforms too get sacked if their views aren't cognizant or completely against of the firm they're employed with-again loads of news pieces & movies on this. (Assuming they're well researched and genuinely true works reported in)
The underlying question is how do you ever know who is authentic and isn't-for online businesses I've figured a way out: business background checks and referrals (loophole is they could make multiple IDs & use multiple phone nos.), so a criminal check (again how great your team is on this which implies you're again going by another person's word for it-which may or may not be true, so this loop goes on uptil a point where you completely lose trust on the entire human race!! or you draw patterns and trends on how to spot someone fake-its really easy, I've nailed it(you can trust me on that))
On a lighter note: it's best to have no digital presence unless there's digital privacy; else grin and bear it (quoting it from a ridiculous psychologist). I don't think any form of deceit and crime should be borne; it ought to be brought to the book(whenever convenient & ready for it) else it should be ensured it never happens in the first place.
Given these practical loopholes, this would make a great business; provided you're certain on the fact-check mechanism & your sources are too.
How does your country battle digital privacy? Best practices tested on smaller groups could lead to a better insight.
Also, to cut a long story short-how about just getting in a hacker to fix it all? That's what hackers do. (there's a difference between hacking & cracking and is unseemingly used interchangeably)