The recent news that Kelly Marie Tran, the actress who played Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, deleted her Instagram account supposedly because of harassment, got me thinking. Social networks have done nothing to deal with the problem of troll accounts. These troll accounts exist for no other reason than to cause trouble and havoc. I think I have a solution and it doesn’t require any new technology.
Social networks should provide the option of verifying an account. To verify an account, a person would need two things: a valid credit card and a government issued I.D.
The social network could either charge a small fee ($10) or simply run a zero dollar authorization on the credit card. The result from the credit card company would show if the number portion of the street address matched their records or not. It would also show if the zip code the cardholder provider matched. If you verify the zip code, you have verified the cardholder’s city and state.
Unfortunately, most credit card companies do not verify the name on the credit card. The only credit card capable of name verification is American Express. Most people do not have an American Express card. This is where the government issued I.D. would come in.
To complete the account verification process, a person would need to upload an image of their I.D. The social network would then manually inspect the image to verify the name on the card matches the name provided when they signed up. They could also verify the address on the I.D. matches what they submitted with the credit card.
Charging $10 to authenticate a user’s identity could more than cover the cost of manually verifying the government issued I.D. It’s not like any of the social networks are hurting for money.
Once everything has been authenticated, the user’s social network account would then be labeled as verified.
Make Account Verification Voluntary
I wouldn’t make account verification a requirement. A person should be able to choose whether they want to verify their account or not. That said, other users should then have the ability to filter out non-verified accounts. They should be able to go into their account settings and flip a virtual switch that will allow them not to see comments from non-verified accounts. They should also be able to choose whether non-verified accounts can leave comments or not.
I think social networks have been reluctant to implement something like this because they want the largest number of users possible. They probably view any type of authentication as a roadblock to creating a large user base. If this is the case, they need to change the way they think about things. For every celebrity who quits a social network because of trolls, there are thousands of others who do the same thing. It doesn’t make the news because they’re just regular people.
If you have a better idea of getting rid of trolls on social networks, I’d like hear it. Explain your idea in the comment section.
Also published on Medium.