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An Analysis of the Online Identity Battleground 5: Can We Trust “Identity Providers”?

Subjects covered in this part of aestetix’s presentation include trust in terms of online names specificity, and “identity providers” like Facebook and Google.

Myth #3

Myth #3

Myth #3: we cannot trust anyone who does not use their legal name online. Trust – that’s such a tricky word, isn’t it? Here’s a couple of examples: my friend ‘violet blue’, she is a sex-positive tech writer, among other things. She wound up having a fight, and she finally did get her name verified (see left-hand image below), because there was an impersonator, somebody else using the same name.

Twitter’s verified identity feature

Twitter’s verified identity feature

Twitter has this thing – that little triangle that you see there, the blue check mark, it’s verified identity. Have you guys seen this on Twitter before, by the way? It turns out that there are ways to fool people, and this Twitter account on the right here, that is a fake Twitter account created for Judge Denise Lind, who’s presiding over, I think, the Bradley Manning pre-trial.

And somebody actually created an account with her photo and her name and started posting all this stuff about how the Obama administration is forcing her to do all these bad things. There was a whole bunch of people who were overjoyed to see this. And they were like: “How do we know this is true?” And they started asking that, and that little image showed up on her profile, but it turned out that somebody actually edited the background of her Twitter page to add the verification in.

CAPTCHA

CAPTCHA

Here are some other examples you guys have probably seen before (see right-hand image). This is a CAPTCHA: how do I know that the person logging in is a human or not? This is basically a key signing log: if you have a GPG key or PGP, how do people trust you? Well, they sign your key, right? This is kind of a way that you can tell somebody’s trustworthy – in this case my late friend Lynne Sassman; how many people trust them. There’s some issues with that, but in general it’s at least one tool that we can try to use to get there.

SSL Certs and message verification

SSL Certs and message verification

Another one (left-hand image) you can see on the left here – SSL Certs, and on the right you have: what if somebody’s being a dick on Reddit, how do I know they’re not a sock puppet, how do I know they didn’t just create that account to log in and do something? Well, they’ve got a whole bunch of karma, so people have upvoted their comments and this stuff is verified. There are symbols that we can use to kind of verify, whatever the word “verify” means. It’s a way that we can establish trust within a community or social system, except when you try to turn it into a business.

Klout scoring service

Klout scoring service

Has anybody heard about Klout? Does anybody know how the fuck Klout works? Because I don’t, and all those people, including a wired.com article: one of the headlines is “Nobody gives a damn about your Klout score.” What the Klout score is it in theory goes through all these social networks and gives you a number between 0 and 100 based on how your Klout is, or your reputation, or your influence. But they don’t tell you how it works. Oh, 100 is Justin Bieber, ok. And they can game it for sale. Maybe they’ll be around, maybe they’ll be more transparent, but at the moment it’s kind of a joke to me.

Questions on trust and transparency

Questions on trust and transparency

If you see a question on here (see left-hand image) that sticks out to you, just come with me afterwards and ask me about it. Some of these questions have no answers, by the way; some of them are just rhetorical. Quick poll here: how many people here have a Facebook account? Ok, keep your hands up. How many of you have your job posted on Facebook? Ok, and of those: how many have your salary posted? So, what is transparency, right?

Myth #4

Myth #4

Myth #4: we can trust “identity providers” like Google and Facebook. Yeah, good one, Adam. So let’s look for a couple of quotes, just historically. Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman at Google, you all may have heard of him; so the first quote here: “The only way to manage this (by this he means online identity) is true transparency and no anonymity.
A few Eric Schmidt’s quotes

A few Eric Schmidt’s quotes

In a world of asynchronous threats it’s too dangerous for there not to be some way to identify you. We need a verified name service for people. Governments will demand it.”

This is why I’m getting involved in NSTIC, and you guys should, too. The next one, check this out: “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” Glad to see that he is the arbiter of morality. So, if you want this guy to dictate what you can do in the bedroom, there you go.

Mark Zuckerberg’s perspective

Mark Zuckerberg’s perspective

Now we have ‘King’ Zuckerberg, CEO at Facebook: “The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly. Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.” So, that’s Zuckerberg talking about integrity; that was before his sister got compromised.

How 4chan’s Chris Poole views identity online

How 4chan’s Chris Poole views identity online

My favorite, of course, is Chris Poole, founder of 4chan, there’s a success kid there: “Saw the school bully working in McDonalds.” Yeah! “The portrait of identity online if often painted in black and white. Who you are online is who you are offline.” “Identity doesn’t work that way, online or offline. It’s not who you share with, it’s who you share as;” and that’s one of the thesis points in my talk: “Identity is prismatic.”

Google NymWar recap of 2011

Google NymWar recap of 2011

Just to do a quick recap (see right-hand image) for the Google nym war stuff; and by the way, nym wars where all of our accounts got suspended, and a bunch of people fought back against Google, and that was called nym wars because people were fighting to keep the names that they had chosen on Google. It’s actually still unclear what their policies are, but we’ll get to that in a second.

Oops… Suspended again

Oops… Suspended again

The chronology: there was some confusion, and they requested my government issued ID, and I’m still not sure why or what they’re going to do with that. I never sent it to them, and please, anytime anybody asks for a government issued ID, ask them what law requires it, because if there’s a law requiring it, there’s probably a legal procedure for using it too.
aestetix’s friends in the same boat

aestetix’s friends in the same boat

That’s just something to think about. I started asking them some hard questions, and my account suddenly got reinstated. Then two weeks later I got suspended again.

I wasn’t alone (see right-hand image): ‘violet blue’, who we just saw in the Twitter thing – she was also suspended. There’s my friend Sai; he has a legal mononym, that’s his driver’s license, his full legal name is Sai.

Read previous: An Analysis of the Online Identity Battleground 4: Legal Names and Cyberbullying

Read next: An Analysis of the Online Identity Battleground 6: Names Policies of Google and Facebook

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