Media platforms

Should social media platforms require government ID verification?

On February 25, 2021, the central government brought in new guidelines for social media, guidelines for intermediaries and rules of the Digital Media Code of Ethics, 2021 to protect users’ rights and regulate digital content platforms , online broadcasting and social media. The new guidelines proposed that all social media accounts be verified via cellphones with government ID within three months.

Posting this claim on social media, via his verified Twitter account, Delhi High Court Barrister Prashant Patel Umrao wrote, “All SM accounts must be verified with government ID via phones laptops within three months. A welcome step. The internet is safer and more responsible now.” India Today’s Anti Fake News War Room (AFWA) found this claim misleading. The government then clarified that it was not mandatory for citizens to verify their social media accounts, adding that it had only asked social media platforms to ensure an adequate mechanism for users to voluntarily verify their accounts. accounts.

Twitter, a social media forum, works mainly on the notion of anonymity and the verification process is lacking or not respected. Ending anonymity will hurt Twitter since the platform fundamentally thrives on the anonymity of its users. Verifying IDs will destroy fake accounts, which will stop hate speech. Additionally, people are less likely to speak out for fear of retaliation and whipping (especially from the politically motivated class). It will reduce hate and fake news and trust me it will be worth it.

The days of relying on human instincts are over. Also, humans tend to follow the “herd mentality”. All social media platforms, including Twitter, have a lot of work to do regarding reading and acting on signals and how their AI and algorithms read those signals and act on them. If the accounts are verified, it would impact trolling behavior and the spreading of false information on various social media platforms, including the so-called WhatsApp University.

Without verification, anyone and anyone can tweet anything, including lies or fake news. Liars aren’t afraid of being identified, and anyone who’s spent a lot of time on Twitter has had experience being trolled. Verifying the identity of all its users would help Twitter promote free speech and ban hate speech.

Just doing the blue check, Twitter never really thought about identity. Like many other social media platforms, Twitter allowed people to create an account with any identity. For verification, all we need is an email address. So, a social media platform uses another social media entity to verify its users!

The Twitter account allows a person to put on various avatars, where our virtual life has little to do with real identities and/or images. We could live out our fantasies in a digital space. As the platform matures over a period, users get to know the ins and outs of the system – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Yet a common thread remains – the blanket of anonymity. It’s a problem. Twitter and all social media platforms need to realize that anonymity promotes several evils.

If you can’t physically stand on stage to express your “true feelings”, then why should you be allowed to do the same on a social media platform? Do I have the courage to stand in the street with a microphone in hand, spouting epitaphs and racist insults? If I don’t, I shouldn’t be able to hide behind Twitter and do what’s happening every second. A social media platform and/or system that requires verification of all new and current users with government-recognized ID cards would reduce these activities to a large extent.

Identity verification at all levels would help promote freedom of speech as guaranteed by the Indian Constitution and control hate speech. Things won’t be fixed immediately, but the process will begin. Additionally, it will create a level playing field for verified accounts by following stricter rules on what is allowed and permitted by law.

(The writer is a renowned lawyer, founding partner of Universal Legal and an angel investor. He is an expert in socio-political and economic issues. Alumni of NLS Banglore, he also initiated social projects as the President of Rotary Club from Mumbai, Nariman Indicate)

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Posted: Wednesday 09 March 2022, 06:59 IST

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