Will social data revolutionise identity verification?

Next time you complete an online transaction, imagine using social data like your Facebook profile to sync personal information, make a payment and verify your identity. Are we on the cusp of a social ID revolution or does social media still lack the desired credibility?

Yes, says George, The Fraud Prevention Guru

Our heads are already well and truly in The Cloud. As we download, upload and add more and more parts of our day-to-day lives…

…on to electronic devices, it’s fair to say the sheer volume of socialised data is revolutionising the way we verify our IDs.
Humanity has just stepped off a virtual cliff. For thousands of years, we relied on a steady flow of evolution from stone tablets to scrolls, log books to suitably official-looking printed matter to help underpin our identities.

But now, thanks to the social data revolution, we’re no longer obliged to.

How many passwords or log-in account combinations to do we now ‘own’? Bear in mind they’re vital for everything from online banking and online shopping to infrequent digital purchases and social media.

The sheer volume of personally socialised information we’ve put out there means we’re obliged to remember far more IDs than most of us can recall, or indeed care to recall.

The average Briton now spends almost nine hours a day staring at their phone, tablet, PC, or television – and with ever more of our lives on-screen, it’s inevitable that social data and socially-created data will be relied upon.

We’re recording more about ourselves and our experiences than ever before and today this process is effortless and even unintentional. Never before have we had access to such comprehensive and accurate personal histories.

But we’re also actually a tad lazy. We generally don’t like remembering things when we’re not obliged to, so social data can record something for us, when we’re less likely to remember it ourselves.

Social data is complex, it’s layered, created and built up over time – and it’s hard to recreate that level of profile in such a short timeframe. It offers a wealth of different elements that together represents an individual – curating a unique user profile.

It’s ubiquitous, readily available and it’s very inclusive. There are many people who may not engage in other ways that will use social – particularly those with modest credit profiles, those aged from 18 to 25.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that it’s increasingly being accepted by consumers – how many websites offer well-established social media log-ins via Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, or Gmail?

There’s a need to consider using social media for ID verification simply to meet customer expectations, match their current experiences and also ensure we reach the vast majority.

No, says Penny, The Identity Verification Master

Right now it’s very unlikely social data will be suitable as a uniform route to identity verification.

For a start, consider the level of rigour around the checks made on individuals setting up social media accounts. Generally all that’s required is an opt-in and self-selected age verification.

It’s incredibly easy to create fake personas and bogus profiles with wholly fictitious lives – all with very little effort. As it stands, it’s unlikely a lender or ecommerce platform feel safe in simply relying on a relatively low-level of ID verification. Add in a suitable time period to help create a front of credibility and it creates an even more insecure virtual environment.

Some may argue we’re already migrating towards wholesale social media log-ins – but there’s a critical credibility issue. In all likelihood, commerce, business and industry will move in the other direction in order to safeguard their customers and shore up the safety of their platforms.

People using social media selectively choose what they share and who they share the information with. They create their own social ‘identities’ and they’re likely to be subtly different depending on which social media platform they’re on.

At the same time privacy levels across sites vary – and it’s not so hard to clone multiple numbers of profiles on an industrial scale.

Many social media platforms may only rely on a single authentication factor to log in. It can be used but many people need to be wary of relying on it, so maybe it could be used an additional layer of identity?

At the end of the day, the key question is can social media data be reliably trusted? Right now some would say it shouldn’t.