elon musk tweet

“Authenticate All Real Humans” – How Can Elon Musk Combat Bots on Twitter?

Last week Elon Musk bought Twitter for $45b. His goal? Make the platform “free speech friendly.” But he faces a tough challenge: how to enable free speech without letting bots and bad actors run amok. Musk’s solution: “authenticate all real humans.”

But what does authenticating all real humans mean? During my nearly 20 years in identity technology I’ve worked hard to help educate businesses about what “authentication” means. So naturally when I heard Musk use the term authenticate I began to think of his true meaning, and how he might implement a strategy that makes Twitter open, usable, and bot-free. Or how he might take it one level further to match individual identities to each Twitter user.

Bots Vs. Humans

A very simple way to keep the bots off Twitter is to force users to perform a liveness check using facial recognition. Liveness checks are a feature of our Age Restricted Vending product, and are used in that instance to check that someone is not holding a photo up to a camera to scam the system. A liveness check can include actions such as:

  • Smile
  • Turn head side to side
  • Remove glasses
  • Remove mask

Liveness checks can be performed via selfie. The user simply uses the backward facing camera, and places their head inside an oval that is overlaid on the screen. They are then prompted to perform between 1 and 3 liveness checks. The program can then virtually confirm that they are a live human. 

Liveness checks can be performed and liveness can be validated in <5 seconds. This step could be done as a pass fail with no other identity verification or authentication checks. It would simply confirm that a real human is associated with the account. It would, however, exclude potential Twitter users who do not have access to a camera. Live humans would also, theoretically, be able to be verified on multiple accounts. So it would not necessarily solve the issue of call centers or troll farms where real humans are acting as bots. 

Mobile ID Validation

Liveness checks are a great option to ensure that Twitter users are real humans. But they don’t actually tie a user to a real human. To do this, Musk would need to perform some type of ID checking. The information on the ID could then be checked against self-reported information. Mobile ID validation is commonly used by banks and financial institutions for loan origination, and for online gaming to verify age. 

To perform ID verification remotely, the user would need to take front and back photos of their ID. Then two key things occur. One, the information on the front of the ID is read using optical character recognition, and matched to the information stored in the barcode. Then the barcode is scanned and reviewed for any issues, as many fakes contain issues inside the barcode itself. 

PII could be flushed after front and back matching, and/or checking against the existing Twitter database is performed. Or some combination of information could be retained. It all depends on the policies created when the system is set up. 

When combined with a selfie, mobile ID verification is a great way to match a digital identity to a real human, and perform some basic checks to ensure the ID is real. However, because phone cameras can’t perform UV/IR scanning, or look for holograms, they won’t be able to perform more stringent authentication.

ID verification is one of the three methods Twitter currently uses to confirm identities for the blue checkmark for verified accounts.

An actual photo of a troll farm – showing it is real humans, not “bots” that negatively impact the user experience on platforms such as Twitter

Mobile Authentication

So as I mentioned, authentication needs more sophisticated, powerful hardware such as the E-Seek M500 (used by the TSA) or the CR5400. These scanners include powerful cameras with high image resolution and several different types of light, so they are great at catching fake IDs. 

However, it isn’t practical for Twitter to physically authenticate everyone. A mobile solution is required. So to truly check for fakes and authenticate identity, a mobile authentication solution would be required. This is accomplished by checking identities against a third party database. It is a similar solution to what we provide for our cannabis delivery customers, who need to authenticate IDs in a mobile environment. 

Twitter would simply scan the back of the ID, containing the barcode, and then run a check against a trusted third party database (we offer both US and global checks). This would match a real individual to the account, confirming that the individual exists, and could perform additional checks such as location, which could mitigate foreign call centers using IDs.

Mobile authentication is typically priced per scan, with volume discounts applying at the scale in which Twitter would be operating. They would likely want to implement a stepped approach, in which their most high risk or controversial accounts are forced to go through the mobile authentication process first, or accounts are forced to undergo mobile authentication after a ban or a warning. 

Conclusion

In the end, it really comes down to the nuance of what Musk said. Does he want to match every Twitter account to a real human? Or does he just want to block obvious bots? If the former, will this information be public, like Facebook? Or will only Twitter know the true identities of users? And how will this work for companies? If removing bots is the true motive, then how will he eliminate call centers and farms that are behaving like bots?

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Return Fraud: What It Is and How to Prevent It

Return Fraud is a persistent problem for retail businesses today, resulting in billions of dollars in lost revenue and additional costs in the U.S. every year. According to the National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, the surge in eCommerce since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has continued to drive return fraud losses even higher, with retailers losing more than $78.4 billion in 2021 alone. 

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The Future of Mobile Gaming in 2022

The mobile gaming market, also known as mobile gambling or iGaming, is enjoying a period of rapid growth. Mobile sports betting, now legal in more than 2 dozen states, the future of mobile gaming looks extremely bright – with some analysts predicting the industry to grow to $100 billion annually by 2026.

However, sports betting isn’t the only factor driving growth in the mobile gaming industry. Not only is increased access to online poker, mobile casino apps, and fantasy sports betting pushing the industry forward in 2022, a growing number of states are authorizing online lotteries and online horse racing to residents over 21. And with the success of these programs directly helping fund infrastructure development, education improvements, and other state projects, people across the nation will continue pushing their state legislators to pass legislation that increases access to online gaming in their area.

Why Is Mobile Gaming Doing So Well?

It’s no surprise that the Covid-19 pandemic drastically reduced in-person gaming in many places in 2020, such as Las Vegas (which saw a 25.2% decrease in revenue from the previous year). While players were understandably hesitant to return to in-person gaming in 2021, even after vaccines became widely available, many players took advantage of the ease and convenience offered by mobile applications to meet their gaming needs instead. This resulted in a massive surge in iGaming revenue, skyrocketing upward more than 300%, and helped the gaming industry set all-time revenue records by the end of the year. 

Additionally, technological developments are helping to make mobile gaming more appealing to the general public. Not only are developers creating full-feature mobile phone applications that offer more than just sports betting and poker, they are also finding opportunities to intersect with other tech to improve player experiences. 

Here are some of the developments to watch for in 2022 and beyond: 

  • Virtual Reality Gaming – As virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology continues to improve and become more accessible, mobile gaming operators are integrating these mechanics into the iGaming industry to further bring the casino experience into homes.
  • Cryptocurrency iGaming  – Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are steadily gaining momentum in the mobile gaming sphere, attracting players with the promise of quick transactions, enhanced security, and a level of anonymity that in-person gaming just can’t compete with. Moving through 2022 and into the future, it’s safe to say that the integration of cryptocurrency into mobile gaming will continue to increase.
  • Live Dealers – Further bringing the casino into player homes, many iGaming operators are integrating live dealers into their applications. This provides an unprecedented level of interactivity that keeps players engaged, emulating the casino environment through a more immersive gaming experience. 
  • AI Security – Artificial Intelligence solutions are rapidly transforming the mobile gaming industry, giving operators and players a more secure environment for gaming transactions. Additionally, AI integration supports responsible gaming, using powerful analytics to identify cheating, addiction, and other patterns that can help promote healthy mobile gaming. 

The Takeaway

As mobile gaming continues to expand through 2022 and beyond, operators need to focus on responsible practices that foster an enjoyable experience for players. A foundational part of this is ensuring that players are who they say they are, without convoluted and unnecessarily invasive identity verification processes. 

By partnering with experts in the ID verification field, mobile gaming companies can protect their interests while providing the security that players deserve. IDScan.net specializes in verification for the mobile gaming industry, seamlessly integrating state-of-the-art validation technologies into applications that won’t interrupt the player experience. These tools also facilitate player involvement in loyalty programs, further enhancing gaming applications through rewards that mirror in-person casino operations. 

Moving forward, iGaming operators integrating mobile id validation tools like those provided by IDScan.net can take full advantage of a booming market, while maximizing profit and ensuring compliance with state and federal gaming regulations. 

Give the players what they want. Reach out to a specialist at IDScan.net today

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