Mark Cuban proposed (ok, demanded) on Twitter that both Twitter and Facebook should verify every single user of their social platforms. I agree wholeheartedly with Cuban for one single clarifying reason, but how do we get there? What will have to happen when they pull the trigger on 100% verification? And, what happens if they choose to ignore all the fake accounts and robots? Here is Cuban’s post on Twitter.
“There needs to be a single human behind every account.” What a concept! I really do not think that the founders of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or any other social network ever intended to have thousands of bots taking over their platforms, sharing, liking, following, and otherwise interacting like humans. In fact, call me naive, but I don’t think they considered the impact of all these bots on the every day usage and stats. At least not in their original visions.
All that being said, it’s up to these companies to take a stand and make it real if they want to be taken seriously as a place for legitimate social movements, conversations, events and actual truthful news.
How do you Verify?
Verifying every user on Twitter and Facebook would take some time, but not nearly as long as you think. But I’m a simple minded person, so I tend to take the very easiest way to solve any problem. Both social platforms (which would include Instagram, owned by Facebook) could force every user to log out, and then, upon logging back in, forced the verification protocol.
What is that protocol? Twitter has an application process (though it’s been temporarily made unavailable), but it’s a bit onerous and I assume it requires some manual intervention by Twitter employees. That’s not scalable. It’s doable, but not scalable. Facebook and Twitter could work with Google and the phone companies to verify everyone. Yes, it would mean sharing some info, but it could be as simple as “If you want to use Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, you can opt in to being verified.” Some will, some won’t.
If you can’t verify your identity between Facebook, Twitter, Google, and your mobile carrier, then you likely don’t want to be verified, and that’s ok, too.
Update: I had forgotten that, as part of the process for becoming a verified account on Twitter, you have to agree to receive a 6-digit code via text and input that after entering your username and password. It’s called, appropriately, “Login Verification.” Why can’t they just require it?
What happens if they don’t Verify?
Nothing. Status quo. Millions of fake followers, fake accounts sharing fake political hashtags, etc., etc. In the short term, nothing would really change. In the long term, these social networks have the responsibility to verify users to validate their reason for being.
I may have just answered my own question here: do you think Jack and Zuck would voluntarily give up millions and millions of “users” so that actual users would have all the better feels about using Twitter and Facebook? Shouldn’t their paying customers (advertisers) be demanding it, like Cuban is?
The One Single Clarifying Reason
They should. Here’s why: “social“. Facebook and Twitter were both created to connect people digitally. People. Not bots. People. If Jack and Zuck really want us to trust them with our words, opinions, laughter, tears, events, news, and – ahem – advertising dollars, then they will do what it takes to make sure that every account has “a single human” behind it.
What do you think?