User verification services on social media platforms should be free and encouraged by the platforms. In the past several months, verification on social media has recently become a hot topic with some platforms charging users for the verification. This is counterproductive. Social media platforms should encourage user verification, offering it for free, and reaping the benefits of more secure, trustworthy, and valuable users. Let’s delve into this issue in more detail.
Social media platforms have become a staple of our everyday lives, providing a means of connecting with business associates, fans, family, friends, and like-minded individuals. Some have become the source of where users get their news which has applications in verification and will be the subject of another post. With the rise of fake accounts, bots, and the increasing misuse of these platforms, concerns around safety and authenticity have come to the forefront for users, content creators, and the sacred advertisers. One viable solution to this problem is to verify user accounts, but it’s worth asking: why should users have to pay for it?
In my opinion, user verification should be free on social media platforms. Below, I will explore why this is the case and highlight the benefits that come from verified accounts.
Enhancing Trust and Credibility
User verification on social media platforms can have significant benefits that can help build trust and credibility. When users see a verified account, they know that the account belongs to a real person or entity, which helps prevent fake accounts and impersonations. This, in turn, reduces misinformation, cyberbullying, and even identity theft.
Combating Online Harassment and Hate Speech
Moreover, online harassment and hate speech has become a growing concern for social media platforms. To address this problem, some have suggested linking user accounts to official IDs to make social media users more accountable. However, making users pay for verification can create a barrier that prevents some users, especially those from marginalized communities, from participating in social media. Therefore, offering free verification can ensure that everyone has the same level of protection from online harassment and hate speech.
Improving Advertiser Confidence
In addition to enhancing trust and combating harassment, verified user accounts can also boost advertiser confidence. Advertisers want to know that their ads are being seen by real people who are genuinely interested in their products or services. Having a large number of fake or unverified accounts can lead to low engagement rates, which can affect the return on investment for advertisers. By offering free verification, social media platforms can help ensure that advertisers have access to a more engaged and authentic audience. This audience would also be more valuable to advertisers.
While some social media companies have resisted the idea of introducing identification verification, arguing that many people around the world lack access to an official ID, recent research from BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, shows that more than half of tech experts (56%) believe linking social media accounts to true identities is technically achievable. By making verification free, social media platforms can help ensure that everyone has access to the benefits of verified accounts, regardless of their location or socioeconomic status.
One argument that these platforms need to charge is the infrastructure and people needed to operate the verification. These companies spend billions researching new ways to improve their platforms and to think that this is even going to be a blip in their financials is a fallacy. These companies are under scrutiny for their massive size and profits which I don’t believe is fair but that is the world we currently live in. User verification would be a north star they could point at showing they are doing something to improve their platforms and protect their users.
Providing free user verification on social media platforms can help build trust and credibility, combat online harassment, and hate speech, and improve advertiser confidence. It’s time for social media platforms to take the lead in making their platforms safer and more secure by encouraging user verification and offering it for free.