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After experimenting with the option over the past few months, X has now launched its new ID verification element for X Premium subscribers, which will enable paying users to confirm their identity, via government-issued ID, in order to have an additional marker added to their X profile.
As you can see, the new process will enable users to confirm their identity via a matching process that uses both your license (or equivalent) and a selfie taken in the confirmation steps. Twitter’s partnered with “forensic identity intelligence” company au10tix for the process, which will lessen the manual labor load on X itself, but will also mean that X users will be sharing their data with both companies as part of the process.
As noted in the above screen, au10tix will keep biometric data on file for 30 days. X, however, will keep it on file indefinitely, for “related safety and security purposes”.
X also recently updated its terms of service to account for this additional data, though what exactly X plans to use this info for is unclear as yet.
At present, verifying your ID is an optional process, and adds nothing more than an extra note on your profile, which is accessible by tapping on your blue checkmark.
But functionally, you don’t need to provide ID to get a verification tick in the app, you only need a phone number and a bank account. Which somewhat belies the “verification” title, as it’s not actually verifying anything, yet, at the same time, there’s nothing that gets additionally unlocked by confirming your actual information.
At least, not yet.
In X’s overview notes on ID verification, it states that:
“X currently focuses on account authentication to prevent impersonation, and may explore additional measures, such as ensuring users have access to age-appropriate content and protecting against spam and malicious accounts, to maintain the integrity of the platform and safeguard healthy conversations.”
So maybe, in future, X could look to age-gate content, and you’ll need to go through the ID verification process to access adult material. Which would probably be a good step, though it may also hit X in the usage stats, so it probably doesn’t have a heap of motivation to enact this.
X also says that those who confirm their ID “may receive additional benefits” in future, including faster checkmark approval, and the ability to change your profile details (photo and display name) without losing your blue tick till the X team reviews every such update.
But it does seem like X is building towards something bigger with this.
Ideally, ID confirmation would be built into X’s verification system, so that the verification tick actually means something, other than “this person is paying us money to use the app”. It used to be that the blue tick was only allocated to notable users (at least in theory), though even then, the former Twitter team confirmed the identification of each of these users as part of the process.
That meant that you could trust that each blue tick account was a real person, at the least, but the new X Premium offering (formerly Twitter Blue) has eroded this element, so the tick itself really doesn’t mean anything much anymore.
If X were to make ID confirmation a requirement, that would also be more in line with its mission to eliminate bots, which is the stated aim of its verification system.
X owner Elon Musk maintains that paid subscriptions are the only viable pathway to defeating bots, but really, it’s ID checking that’s the core element. The challenge lies in how you facilitate such at scale, but if X were able to partner with verification organizations like au10tix in other regions, that could help to enable this, thus making its verification system a more effective process for highlighting fakes.
Implement simple ID checking, make it a requirement for all accounts, and theoretically, you could eliminate bots entirely within months, or however long it takes to confirm all active user identities.
The challenge then is in how these third-party ID checking companies get paid for their contributions. Does X pay them? Does X charge all users and forward part of that cost onto these organizations? Would the payment actually be that these organizations get more data, which is probably not the ideal arrangement?
Maybe, if X added another, lower cost verification process, in which users were simply paying for ID confirmation, that might actually be more popular than the current X Premium system, which costs a lot for, really, not much that’s of interest to the vast majority of users.
Maybe X could charge a one-off $2 fee for ID confirmation, and add a gray checkmark to those accounts. With the added justification of eliminating bots, I suspect a lot more users would sign on, and with checkmark accounts getting priority, that would be a more effective way to combat the reach and effectiveness of bot accounts.
It’s not clear what X’s plan are, but it does feel like something more is coming here, that it does have a broader plan for ID confirmation than it just being an added bonus, for no real benefit.
We’ll have to wait and see, but it could eventually be an interesting and valuable addition.