Blue Users on X (Twitter) Will Need to Send Selfie & Data to Israeli Software Company
X, once known as Twitter, has introduced a new policy where X Blue users will need to submit both a selfie and a photo of their government ID (according to an article in PC Magazine & Aljazeera). This move aims to bolster security against impersonation and fraud. However, eyebrows are raised due to alleged connections between the platform and the intelligence arm of the Israeli Occupation Forces.
Back in November 2022, Twitter initiated subscription fees for verified users. By April, they began phasing out their traditional verification system amidst concerns about impersonation and the spread of misinformation by unverified accounts. As a countermeasure, they launched gold and grey checkmarks for verified organizations and government entities. In July 2023, under Elon Musk’s leadership, the platform underwent a rebranding, becoming ‘X’. Along with this, the new X Blue verification was rolled out.
X Blue, the premium service tier, offers users the ability to edit posts, share extended videos, and get prioritised in conversations and searches, ensuring higher visibility. But the prestige of having an X Blue checkmark has waned. Some users have even been mocked for paying $8 for this badge of ‘honour’. Responding to this sentiment, the platform now allows users the option to hide their checkmarks.
While Musk advocates that paid verification is a necessary shield against bot spam, concerns are mounting. Only a fraction of the app’s audience pays for XBlue (5%) and its full effects as a “bot-battling tool” are not as impactful as they could be, according to Social Media Today, who agrees with Musk that linking their government ID to their account, “could set the bar even higher, and further limit the impact of spammers and trolls, at least via verified profiles.”
The Israeli firm, AU10TIX, will be responsible for the management and storage of this sensitive verification data, retaining it for up to 30 days. AU10TIX helped to create the identity verification systems for airports and border controls in the 1980s and 90s before expanding, with the growth of the internet, into what it describes as “digital spaces” in 2002. It now boasts several high-profile clients such as Uber, PayPal and Google. Elon Musk appeared to have completed ID verification on August 1, suggesting that the ID verification system is already operational and could therefore appear publicly soon.
X users were unhappy that AU10TIX would store user data with some pointing out its employees’ links to Israeli intelligence and others expressing their discomfort with giving a company their data when so many data breaches have been reported in the past.
However, despite the claims that some sources say this will be a good thing, it only brings us one step closer to the “everything app” that Elon Musk has said he wants to create. Musk’s idea of turning Twitter into the next super app resonates with popular multifunctional platforms in Asia, such as WeChat in China. In a podcast interview last year, Musk emphasized the need for a super app in the US, suggesting that the country either needed to transform Twitter into one or start something entirely new. Drawing parallels with China, where residents rely heavily on WeChat for a plethora of daily tasks, Musk’s vision for X is to create a platform that integrates multiple functionalities, offering users a seamless and comprehensive digital experience.
So, what sort of features can we expect from the new X?
- Live Streaming
- VR & AR
However, as soon as you add the gatekeeper technology of ID verification to this you introduce a Digital ID (aka Digital Passport) platform. And, naturally, many people are worried because this could create the ultimate digital state where everything you do and everything you need is controlled or mandated by using this digital platform. The name “everything app” implies that EVERYTHING you do will go through this app. And, as we’ve seen in recent years, the move towards digital identification, tracking and mandates doesn’t inspire confidence that the powers that be always have our best interests at heart – you’ve only got to see the commentary on social media to get a feel for the sentiment here.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.