The Indian government is wading into one of the most profound arguments of society today – should people have to verify themselves to use social media?
In a recent court proceeding, the Tamil Nadu government recommended to the Supreme Court that users should be linked with their Aadhaar numbers (the equivalent of a U.S. social security number). Their argument was that it would help identify or reduce the causes of toxic content across social media. This issue is being fought vigorously in court by Facebook, and has strong proponents on both sides. The main goal is to find a balance between a citizen’s right to privacy and being able to combat people spreading disinformation and sowing discord.
It’s an understatement to say this problem is complex with many layers.
Today’s social media landscape has seen the number of fake accounts grow to staggering numbers. Earlier this year, Facebook removed 2.2 billion fake accounts. A recent study by Arkose Labs found 53% of all social media logins are fraudulent. When a group of experts was surveyed about how many fake accounts there are populating social media, answers included that only 40 of 60% of Twitter users are real people.
The vast amount of fake profiles, clicks, and engagement occurring also has political ramifications. We know about Cambridge Analytica and Russian social media interference in the 2016 U.S. election. It’s also been reported that the Chinese government had 200,000 fake accounts targeting protesters in Hong Kong. We’ve seen anonymity be weaponized to divide and influence people.
The idea of requiring verification for social media has been suggested before, and it’s just tough to really pin down. People are entitled to privacy, but fake accounts have become such an overwhelming part of the online community that they need to be dealt with in some way. As machine learning and speech/text bots increase in prevalence, the problem is only going to become harder to untangle.
We know this issue is front and center with mainstream social and search platforms. As a result, retailers need to prioritize producing authentic content that’s not spammy or misleading, while keeping track of whether followers are real. Conduct simple audits with specialized social media audit tools or at least start with a basic Google search. Don’t buy your followers or engage with click farms. Stay away from sharing fake news and always find multiple sources of information instead of relying on a single source of information, as it may not be credible. Any questionable behaviors can eventually catch up with you and cause substantial negative effects to your brand and overall business. Worse yet, if Google takes action then you may now show up on the SERP.
Being a responsible, ethical marketer has plenty of long-term benefits, especially in today’s digital landscape. The best thing your business can do is share and promote user-generated content that speaks to the quality of your brand. Whether it’s reviews, videos, testimonials, or promoted comments, these will help distinguish your brand as having a real following. This content will also assert your level of expertise and authority with prospective customers.
Is your social media presence safeguarded against fake accounts? Contact us to discuss ways to boost your online profile.