Should Social Profiles be used for Secure Identity Verification?

In our increasingly connected world, more people are sharing information about their life on social media. Whether its to connect with friends and family or build new connections with like-minded people, social media has become a major cornerstone of our identity in recent years. Every minute we post 3 million times on Facebook, 400,000 times on Twitter, and 55,000 times on Instagram. We put so much information about ourselves online: information about food habits, our friends, our pets, recent vacations and more. There is a lot of data available about us on social media. This leads to an important question for business owners who conduct business online, should social media profiles be used as a method of secure identity verification?

How IDMERIT Performs Secure Identity Verification

At IDMERIT, we do not use social profiles to perform digital identity validation. Instead, we crosscheck government issued IDs, driver’s licenses and passports with information from official data sources. These sources provide us with enhanced data intelligence to legitimize the information on the government issued identity documents. This is how we offer secure identity verification services to our clients. The types of sources tapped into by our products IDMverify and IDMvalidate include:

  • Voter data
  • Utilities
  • Census data
  • Passport registries
  • Tax registries
  • Public records
  • Mobile network subscriber data
  • Motor vehicle data
  • Credit files
  • Government data

When we access these databases, we are looking for an intersection of information to confirm identity. For example, let’s say Jane Doe needs to verify her identity. She inputs her driver’s license into IDMvalidate, our proprietary identity verification software. The software will pull the information from her driver’s license and crosscheck it various official databases. During this near instantaneous check, it will confirm that her name Jane Doe appears on several databases, and that her address is indeed the one stored on several databases. It may not be the same address stored in the census data, but that’s ok. By checking utility databases, we can see that Jane Doe moved since the last census and has the correct information on file with utility companies.

IDMERIT chooses to use this method of verification without the use of social network information because we find it to be the most reliable and trustworthy method of secure identity verification. This allows us to provide identity verification services to companies in highly regulated spaces. Nevertheless, this method of verification and profiling still exists and can be useful in some cases. We will discuss how social network profiling works in the rest of this article.

How Social Media Network Verification Works

Companies that use social media information as digital identity validation analyze social profiles to determine identity. They will explore the digital footprint of a consumer on social media to determine if the profile—and user—is real or fake. Diligent social media identity solutions will use information such as the age of the social media account, the depth of data, how much a user interacts with other accounts, consistencies between various social media accounts and text analytics to conclude whether an account is genuine or not. This process can happen in real time and with minimal effort for the consumer. It can also speed up onboarding times significantly.

Problems with Social Media Verification

There are several problems with social media verification that make it an unreliable form of identity verification. The first is that while social media adoption and use has been widespread, it is not universal. There are many people who for a variety of reasons actively choose to remain disconnected from social media. This means that their identities could not be verified through this verification method.

Another problem is the ease at which fake social accounts can be created. Currently, it is relatively easy for users to create social media accounts which do not reflect their real identities. While many of the social media verification tools available today can determine newer fake accounts, they cannot confirm that all the profiles they validate are real. Older fake accounts may be able to pass through their verification process.

What to Do?

If your company is a part of a highly regulated industry, would you use social media verification? At IDMERIT, we believe that social media verification is not sophisticated and robust enough to offer true validation of identity in these types of spaces. We do not think that even the most stringent social media verification tools would pass regulatory scrutiny. This makes social media verification impractical for these types of industries. For this reason, we offer alternative forms of verification that we believe to be more reliable and trustworthy for our customers. What do you think? We would love to hear your thoughts on this form of secure identity verification.

Alex McGinness

Alex is passionate about making the world a better place. She believes she can change the world, and one way she can do that is by helping businesses grow online through digital marketing. She excels at branding, graphic design, web design, social media management, and content writing. Alex finds the most success when she is working with companies that produce services or products that make the world a better place. She enjoys working with a collaborative team that is organized, goal-oriented and harmoniums. At IDMERIT, she manages their digital presence online as their in-house marketing coordinator. Her goal is to showcase the IDMERIT brand as a leader in global identity verification services.

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