UK’s Chartered Institute for IT calls for social media to verify users’ ID | #socialmedia


© Marcel De Grijs

BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT has called for social media platforms to verify users’ ID in order to end online abuse following the racist comments towards England players after the Euro 2020 final

According to a poll carried out by BCS 64% of tech experts want social media platforms to ask for real ID so that users can be held accountable for what they post online.

50% said social media companies themselves should have the main responsibility for reducing online abuse, 19% thought an independent regulator should be responsible, 17% thought it was down to the responsibility of individual users, 5% stated it was the job of government and 4% felt it should be led by the police.

76% said they would also support optional verification of social media ID and 90% said it should be made simple for social media users to see and turn off all unverified accounts.

56% of those polled said linking social media accounts to true identities is technically achievable.

Racism, homophobia and hate speech

Dr Bill Mitchell OBE, Director of Policy at BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, said: “Despite the boycotts and some technical changes from big tech companies, some people still see social media as a consequence-free playground for racial abuse – as we saw with England players.

“IT experts think these platforms should ask people to verify their real ID behind account handles; at the same time, public anonymity is important to large groups of people and so no one should have to use their real name online and any verification details behind the account must be rigorously protected.

“It’s clear the IT profession believes we can prevent social media being an anonymous playground for racism, homophobia and hate speech. Tech experts want users to be accountable for what they say, and they see few technical barriers to verifying the real ID behind account handles.

“At the same time, public anonymity is important to large groups of people, especially those in difficult or dangerous situations or who are vulnerable to targeted abuse. No one should have to use their real name online and any verification details behind the account must be rigorously protected.

“We need those affected by such a change to be part of the debate to make sure there are ethical and secure solutions for verifiable ID available for all types of social media.”

A petition has also now been launched: ‘Make verified ID a requirement for opening a social media account‘ 

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