The Complexities of Identity: How Verification has Been Changing with Tech


Back when the Internet was still new, people enjoyed anonymity online hiding behind quirky usernames. You could be whomever you portrayed yourself to be online. However, things have changed as social media and services started emerging. You now had to authenticate yourself and prove you’re a real person to be able to do a transaction.

This has impacted the way we treat privacy in so many ways. But that won’t be the topic for today’s discussion. Instead, we’ll take a look at how online verification has changed over the years, specifically in tech.

Online anonymity

As mentioned earlier, hiding behind a username used to be the norm. In chat rooms, rarely do we get verified using our real names and email addresses. This was great for a moment but it got abused often via trolling, leaving disparaging remarks, cyberbullying, posting misleading reviews, etc.

In the worst cases, anonymity and the ability to say whatever you want without consequence has led some victims to cause themselves harm. In other cases, it allows wrongdoers to hide their tracks online making it easy to steal email addresses, bank credentials, etc.

Social verification

A key factor to identity verification online is user experience. Certain companies take advantage of social media to streamline it. You will see this when you’re trying to sign up for a service. You may be prompted to log in or create an account via your Facebook or Google account instead.

Verified personalities

Twitter and Instagram both have this feature where they place a verified status for certain key personalities in their platforms. However, this is not just limited to sought after individuals. You too can get your account verified by submitting your real name and photo ID. It’s an easy step to adding that much-coveted blue check mark next to your username but the platform does not guarantee that you’ll get verified. If they deem you not “Notable” enough, you may not get approved for a verified badge.

Authentication 2.0

You are probably familiar with this. You come into the doctor’s office, the bank, or any establishment that requires some verification. They hand you a form where you need to fill out your name, address, phone number, email, etc. This is a way for them to verify your identity.

On the Internet, it’s a bit trickier. Crooks are creative and have found loopholes in the system that allows them to do illegal stuff like making unauthorized transactions and laundering money. This is why the original KYC regulations have undergone numerous revisions to adapt to changing technology.

For example, it’s not enough that you verify identity. The institution will also track your activity, keeping a close eye on transactions that are out of the ordinary. Yes, you’re giving up more sensitive information but this is done for your security and the organization’s security.

Another way businesses simplify KYC compliance is through biometrics. This can be done by comparing the customer’s fingerprints against their existing record in the government database. Another way to measure biometrics is to collect customer’s biometrics during sign up and using that to verify them in future transactions. This way of verifying identity is not only very secure, it’s also very easy on the customer.

Exploring Ideas

In an effort to make the user experience much smoother, other businesses have come up with innovative ideas for authentication. One such example is Amazon’s payment by ‘selfie.’ It’s not available to the general public yet, but the company has already filed a patent to the technology.

Basically, users just have to take two selfies to make a payment instead of typing their password or credit card information on their phones. Even Mastercard has already started adapting to this technology. At the moment, people are responding positively to the software.

What are your thoughts about the evolution of identity verification on the internet? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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