X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, will now require X Blue users to submit a selfie alongside a photo of a government-issued ID, according to PC Magazine. The move is apparently “part of a drive to add an additional layer of security against impersonation and fraud.” Will there be anyone on the X platform who will happily hand their data to a tech firm that allegedly has links to the intelligence unit of the Israeli Occupation Forces?
Monthly subscription fees were imposed on verified Twitter users in November 2022. Verification was then extended to any account with a verified phone number and an active subscription to an eligible Twitter Blue plan. On April 1, Twitter announced it would begin removing its legacy verification programme and removing legacy verified checkmarks.
Apparently, these changes led to fears that impersonation would be easier on the platform and hand false credibility to accounts that spread misinformation, according to Al Jazeera. In response, the platform, introduced gold and grey checkmarks, used by verified organisations and government-affiliated accounts, respectively.
In July 2023, Musk announced that Twitter would be rebranded as X and the latest X verification process, which requires a selfie and a government-issued ID. (Aljazeera ).
X Blue, is the platform’s so-called “premium subscription service,” which allows paid users to gain a number of features on the app, including the ability to edit posts and share longer video clips. It also prioritizes subscribed users’ rankings in conversations below posts and searches, effectively giving Blue subscribers more engagement with a wider audience. But perhaps most importantly, subscribing to X Blue gives users a “blue check” mark, verifying their account.
While many of us may have assumed that the paid-for verification was to add to Musk’s Billions, seems we were wrong. According to Elon Musk, it is because “Past bot defenses are failing. Only subscription works at scale.” Musk says that the verification would “effectively eliminate bot spam entirely”, which aligns with one of his key intentions for the app.
However, being Blue verified, is not the status symbol that was once coveted, and many users are being mocked for spending $8 for the privilege, resulting in X enabling “Blue” subscribers to hide the “blue check” verification (source).
It may be possible that the Blue Users may not wish to subscribe at all in the very near future, as their “personal information required by the verification process will be handled by the Israeli company AU10TIX software which will store the information for up to 30 days.” (Source)
X users were unhappy with the choice of the company to store user data with some pointing out its employees’ links to Israeli intelligence and others expressing their discomfort with giving a company their data when so many data breaches have been reported in the past.
AU10TIX helped to create the identity verification systems for airports and border controls in the 1980s and 90s before expanding, with the growth of the internet, into what it describes as “digital spaces” in 2002.
It now boasts several high-profile clients such as Uber, PayPal and Google. Elon Musk, who acquired Twitter in October 2022, appeared to have completed ID verification on August 1, suggesting that the ID verification system is already operational and could therefore appear publicly soon.
Did Musk Create the Problem?
It seems that “Fighting the bots” is Musk’s and X’s pretext for bringing in a form of digital ID & social credit score. He has allowed bots to flourish and failed to take less intrusive steps to stop them. Is this just another example of “Problem, reaction, solution?”
Thankfully there is only a fraction of the app’s audience paying for XBlue, (5%) and its full effects as a “bot-battling tool” are not as impactful as they could be, according to Social Media Today, who agrees with Musk that linking their government ID to their account, “could set the bar even higher, and further limit the impact of spammers and trolls, at least via verified profiles.”
They argue that “if X then implemented further restrictions, like making all users provide government-issued ID to keep using the app……” Yeah, that will also be when he limits his audience altogether as most of us leave the X platform!
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