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Soon, social media may mandate account verification


Posted on : 05/Apr/2019 12:02:34

A new initiative by the government will soon restrict social media trolls on Facebook, Twitter, etc. This will be achieved through compulsory account verification through mobile numbers or official IDs, say officials. This initiative will be applicable for both new users as well as existing users.

It is generally considered that anybody could post anything anonymous without any kind of second thought. There should be measures to maintain privacy of individuals and disallow negative thoughts getting spread on the internet. Basically, it is this anonymity that the trolls and propagators think to fake.

For this, we may try out mobile number verification through One Time Password. There are already options available on Twitter where mobile number verification is done. We may also verify using Aadhar card or passport or other kinds, say officials.

One can very easily open a Twitter account just with their mail ID or mobile number. However, there are possibilities for faking the account which means the verification may not be authentic. The system should be amended and make measures to uphold user privacy and accountability.

This initiative however does not mandate linking of pictures. There is also no need of getting fed every time they enter the user account, but it is imperative for us to have a law that mandates verification. Privacy of these details shall be maintained and the details thus shared will be retained with the intermediary. These details will be extracted by the law enforcement agencies only when there are complaints or issues.

Later this year, the government is likely to roll out intermediary guidelines. This however will not contain account verification as its integral part. In case of violations, the guidelines proposes imposing penalty or jail terms.

The guidelines further stress on the possibility of tracing messages and identify the point of origin of messages, and securing the users consent before getting shared on chat groups. On Wednesday, WhatsApp had rolled out a privacy feature with which it becomes mandatory for a person to give his consent before getting added into a chat group.

As verification becomes mandatory, it will be possible to track down unacceptable behavior and unwanted trolling can be avoided too.

When enquired about the readiness of Twitter to introduce such mandatory verification process across all its user base, it responded saying the public verification is kept closed for now.

As the elections are falling close, Twitter is engaged in working close with the Indian political parties for verification of elected officials, candidates and party officials all of whom will be seen active on public meetings and conversations. Such parties would create their own account on Twitter and get it reviewed to cater to the verification standard. This initiative is aimed at ensuring sturdy engagement with public figures.