Twitter’s fraud problem isn’t too hard to solve

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With every element of Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover constantly scrutinized, there’s been no shortage of headlines involving the social media giant over the past few months. Twitter has had a tumultuous few months under its new ownership. There are layoffs (and redeployments) changes to the user experience; And of course, there are constant efforts to fix and monetize Twitter’s user verification system.

After its initial launch in November, Twitter Blue — initially pitched as a revenue-generating scheme for the social media platform — quickly took an unexpected turn, impressing everyone. LeBron James To Lockheed MartinTwitter pranksters took the opportunity to pay $8 for verification and immediately began impersonating public figures and brands, tweeting defamatory and vile messages as a result. It costs companies billions.,

The company has since retooled its Twitter Blue system, creating new authentication badges designed to protect companies and governments from fraudsters, and a labeling system that shows what type of user a user is. is confirmed. There is a waiting period for new accounts that want to sign up for Twitter Blue, as well as a cell phone number requirement. That’s enough to stop the rapid fraud the company suffered in November, but still not enough to stop it. Committed counterfeiter,

A blue checkmark does not always equal verified.

Twitter’s struggles with user authentication show just how vulnerable the online world is to fraud. If a few bored individuals can tank the stock market with just a phone number and an email address, imagine what a few organized bad actors can do. It is not a threat. Twitter — or the economy — can afford to take.


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The issue of pay-to-play authentication is almost a self-made trap for social media companies, whose blue badges may be the most effective digital literacy tool to be developed in the last decade.

After years of conditioning, web users assume that a blue check comes with a degree of verification behind it, even if the steps behind that verification are somewhat murky. Under Twitter’s old leadership, the blue tick was more than a confirmation. This was an endorsement, and the loss of Blue Check was a punishment for extremists and individuals who were often deemed to be violating Twitter’s policies.

If Musk and Twitter want to reimagine the world of social media endorsements, they’ll have to start from square one to rethink the endorsement process, and what Twitter Blue is and what it could be. Will reverse your understanding of it. Verification is not just a status that you pay for, but a status that customers are paying to prove.

Sacrificing security for experience

Under the latest Twitter Blue update, Twitter is treating the verification process like a transaction. The customer is buying something good, and Twitter needs to get it into their hands and into their account as quickly as possible. They want frictionless. Customer experiencebut are sacrificing security as a result.

It’s a familiar concern — if the process is too long or too difficult, customers may leave, and companies lose sales. This is the reason why web optimization services are in high demand.

But Twitter isn’t the first company to require digital identity verification. For example, the financial services industry faces stringent Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations, and has still managed to embrace digital onboarding, typically through biometrics and Matches a real person using a combination of physical ID cards. With a government issued ID. Importantly, many banks can now verify customers 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 determine ways to build trust with consumers while keeping their systems safe from fraud. From banks to car rentals to online shopping, there are already dozens of use cases in the market Twitter Blue can model itself after.

Of course, the level that banks require before allowing a user to open a checking account may not be what Twitter needs or wants for the majority of its users. While full identity verification may be the appropriate method for someone trying to set up a Twitter account claiming to be a political candidate or CEO, it may not be the solution needed for a popular meme account.

This is where Twitter has an opportunity to break new ground in terms of social media authentication, and to determine what other fraud signals are, without compromising both privacy and security values. Can determine legitimacy in a restrictive manner. This is an area with a growing trend. Digital wallets And identification can be useful — allowing Twitter to see certain credentials that go toward an account’s legitimacy, while maintaining the degree of anonymity that has made Twitter such an effective tool for social interaction.

With a new authentication system comes new forms of fraud that go unused and untested. Twitter Blue can work – but only if there’s real verification behind it.

Yulin is the Chief Product Officer for Lee. OnfidoOverseeing product, design and strategy.

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