IT experts recommend that users on social media can be checked using actual ID.
A majority of IT professionals believe that in order to counteract anonymous bigotry, homophobia, and other forms of online harassment, social media platforms should compel users to check their identity.
According to a BCS – the chartered institute for IT – poll of 1,804 participants, 64% of those surveyed agreed that social media sites like Twitter and Facebook should demand real ID from users in order to participate, so that people can be held responsible for what they share.
Around a quarter of respondents (26%) believe users should remain unverified, while 10% are unsure. Furthermore, BCS representatives did not believe that the validated data should be made public, and that the secrecy of genuine dissent and whistleblowing should be preserved.
The survey comes ahead of the English Premier League, EFL, and WSL football clubs’ four-day social media boycott this weekend in an attempt to fight abuse and sexism, which is increasingly affecting both black and female footballers. The Rugby Football Union of England has already declared that it would participate in the boycott across all of its outlets.
More than half of the tech experts interviewed (56%) by the IT industry’s professional body, including senior executives and researchers, believe that binding social media pages to true identities is theoretically possible. Just 26% said it was impossible, while the remaining 17% were undecided.
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Half of those polled (50%) believe that social media sites should be in charge of reducing online bullying, whereas only one in five (19%) believe that an independent regulator should be in charge. Individual users should be responsible, according to 17% of respondents. 5% thought it was the government’s responsibility to lead the charge against trolling, while 4% thought it should be the police.
Following antisemitic tweets from high-profile users, the Labour Party called for the government to do better to legislate against hate speech online last year.
“It’s obvious the IT profession thinks we should keep social media from being an anonymous playground for bigotry, sexism, and hate speech,” said Dr Bill Mitchell OBE, director of strategy at BCS. Users should be held responsible for what they say, according to tech experts, and there are few technological obstacles to checking the true identity behind account handles.
“At the same time, large numbers of people value public privacy, especially those in complicated or risky circumstances or who are vulnerable to targeted violence. No one should have to use their real name online, and all account authentication information must be kept secure.
We need those who will be impacted by this move to participate in the discussion so that ethical and safe options for verifiable ID are available for all forms of social media.”