I can see a future in which there is no online trust at all. Not news, not proclamations, not even previously trusted sources. This trust erosion threatens the very fabric of government.
If I stop trusting remote sources, who can I actually trust? City government with a physical presence, well known physical police and government officials known personally to me, and no others.
This troubling trend does not end well.
What happens when you try to fake being an Estonian who holds a national ID card that utilizes cryptographic primitives? Along those same lines, this infrastructure is the very same needed for business to transact (think document/agreement execution, bank accounts, brokerage accounts, payment processing, real estate ownership record systems, etc).
If I can't prove who I am, that's a gap to be solved for by government (and many have already solved for this, it is a well worn path ). If you require me to attest to my identity, that's a regulatory, governance, and oversight issue. As glib as is sounds, fight misinformation/disinformation with trust (infra). Make trust the default, not the exception.
EDIT: Login.gov  provides authentication services for DHS' Global Entry. Why can we not use that to attest identity facts elsewhere? Why can't any citizen get a CAC  to use with this system? (I frequently see Login.gov is hiring for SREs, but no internal advocates/champions; why?) Why can I pay with Apple Pay but can't prove my identity without a paper birth certificate and social security card (or a passport if you're among the well heeled)?
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_national_identity_card...  https://login.gov  https://www.cac.mil/common-access-card/
So the death of anonymity. I already hear the defenders of such a proposal: "If you don't want to give Facebook your federally issued ID then you still have the darkweb!" Followed by an endless stream of hit pieces equating everyone fleeing to non-privacy invasive platforms as nazis/pedos, and mobs of idiots demanding that infrastructure providers null-route wrong-thinkers.
Are you sure that really want a CAC? The OPM gave my biometrics and SSB to China, as well as every other military/gov employee. Except the CIA - the only one who managed to fight off the administrative record merge. If only they didn't draw so heavily from the veteran pool...
Facebook already requires you to use a government issued ID to identify yourself if they question your profile . Not a legal requirement, Facebook's requirement. Twitter also requires government ID to get a blue verified checkbox , or to report fraud.
TLDR: I will take a somewhat ineffective government, warts and all, with the understanding work is necessary to improve it over fatalism and apathy that brings about total dysfunction.
> I'm not here to advocate either way for anonymity
Is trust and anonymity somehow disconnected in your mind? Before you answer that, I'll point out that I didn't say pseudo-anonymity.
> No problems with my CAC, despite OPM's failure.
So you're either a post breach boot or you haven't yet noticed a personal impact. While I've never had the desire, due to the contents of my OPM file, I could never do any business in China under my own name without drawing a disruptive amount of attention. That may or may not be a problem in the future, nobody can say. But it can be said it should have never happened in the first place, as there was ample well reasoned warning and precedent. Anybody else remember the clipper chip? What about that "golden key" stupidity?
Whatever policy Facebook has at the moment is completely beside the point. What you are talking about would require the force of law. This proposal has been floated numerous times, tying online activity to a federally issued identifier.
> Elect better legislators...
Those seeking to verify identities and personas are free to ignore whatever roots or trust chains they choose. Edge cases aside, the US government (in the case of your example) still holds and projects trust value (not sure how many US passports per day are used to validate citizenship, employment eligibility, and entry requirements at nation state borders, I assume it's quite a bit).
Trust is hard (there are entire industries around it), but the notion that it's impossible should not be entertained. It's a core component of modern civilization.
Geopolitical entities have been using the Internet to undermine trust in "the West," broadly speaking, for at least half a decade. Warfare has always included disinformation campaigns (they called it "propaganda"), but never has it been so viral.
I could at least envision a world where cryptographic identity is taken for granted. Think Keybase for publications. Sign articles to prove authenticity.
The cryptography involved is largely a solved problem. Software engineers did it with Keybase, and it's easy enough to use that people with very little cryptographic ability can prove who they are to the Internet (assuming they're an established identity with social accounts, or they have trustworthy people willing to vouch for their identity). But we'd need browsers/clients that have the ability to display proof status on messages, and it would have to be nearly as easy to use as existing clients like Twitter.
I hope we start building businesses that repair trust, rather than harm it. Making everyone distrust everything might benefit a few opportunistic parties in the short term, but in the long run everyone loses.
In 2009, a man arrived at the world-famous Sun Studio in Memphis, TN for a private tour. He told David Brookings, the young, aspiring musician giving the private tour, that his name was Steve Eason. David had been briefed that Eason was a big figure in the music industry, very famous, and so Sun would have to be very careful to preserve his privacy. Eason was also darn ill; he'd been hooked up to some gear that followed him around the studio.
The kid had never heard of Steve Eason, but he gave a passionate tour. At the end, David handed Steve a CD with music on it, hoping to land a record deal. A month later, Brookings got a message from Apple, asking him to come join iTunes to curate Rock & Roll playlists.
And Steve Eason? He wasn't a musician, or even a record producer. The man receiving the Sun Studio tour was Steve Jobs, who had been in Memphis to receive a kidney transplant for pancreatic cancer. He was staying in a house bought by a man named Eason, but Eason was - in fact - the doctor Jobs had scheduled to perform the transplant surgery.
Brookings has worked at Apple to this day.
In truth, more people go by alias names than you'd expect. Without checking a driver's license (and, depending on the sensitivity, maybe some utility bills), you may never know if someone is who they say they are.
Also, I have friends I've met offline, who have moved around to different countries and swapped devices. It's always a big pain trying to establish trust once your physical relationships go digital. There are only so many challenge-response questions to ask them (i.e., things only the two of you know). In reality, our digital and offline lives are intermingled; they each inseparably affect the other, and sometimes it feels like identity problems are turtles all the way down.
I mean, you have to understand that the actions of the globally dominant "West" (North America, EU, Australia, and their allies) in the past 20 (and further beyond that) years have done a lot to undermine trust in them also.
Fake news to lead people into the Iraq War (a 20 year quagmire which only cost millions of lives and trillions of dollars for minute changes on the ground), an inability to defeat ISIS which meant the US had to rely on Iranian militias to beat them. On that note, I think the whole history of US-Iran relations is enough to undermine faith in the "West" as it stands.
I'm not saying other axes of power are better, but trust isn't a competition, it's very possible for people to trust no one outside their few close acquaintances. Trust has to be earned, and the "West" doesn't do a good job of it.
Do you mean Library of Babel ?
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Library_of_Babel: "In any case, a library containing all possible books, arranged at random, might as well be a library containing zero books, as any true information would be buried in, and rendered indistinguishable from, all possible forms of false information..."
Borges' story on the Library of Babel is in conversation with this much older story.
Maybe not that bad of a thing.
At least with online sources it's up to you to decide.
It just doesn't make sense that there is no way for an average real person to get verified and display an instant signal that differentiates them from a fake bot. It's absurd and it causes real harm.
It's the old tech cliché: "Because it doesn't scale." Which is just an excuse for "We're lazy and don't want to spend money on things that don't directly benefit our cafeteria and office toys."
After quitting Facebook a couple of years ago, I tried to log in to my Facebook account back in December to say Merry Christmas to some people, but I am locked out. Facebook asked me to send in a government photo ID, which I did. Nothing has happened since.
Responsibility doesn't scale. Accountability doesn't scale. Service doesn't scale. Doing the right thing doesn't scale.
On the plus side, I'm still not using Facebook.
I read that as: After quitting Facebook as an employee a couple of years ago
Which made this:
> I tried to log in to my Facebook account back in December to say Merry Christmas to some people, but I am locked out. Facebook asked me to send in a government photo ID, which I did. Nothing has happened since.
Sound so very petty and cold blooded. You know, the Facebook we all know and love ;)
> When you get caught you get booted off the platform.
Which may not actually be a problem for most people. The thing that's stopping me from selling my Twitter account to a disinformation network is not my fear of losing access to Twitter, it's that I care about the problem of disinformation and don't want to see myself in the news for something like that.
I'm sure there are thousands of people who'd sell a simply-verified Twitter account, and they probably wouldn't even demand that much. People are already spending hours a day trying to sell their nudes, and still only making a few hundred dollars total (https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/13/business/onlyfans-pandemi...).
There's also a built-in compensating factor: To the extent that twitter accounts are worthless, it's easy to buy them. To the extent that twitter accounts are an important part of your identity online, people will tend to protect them. Try getting people to sell you their social security numbers.
Right now they're closer to the "worthless" end of that spectrum. But maybe verification would change that?
I don't think that's a problem if your goal is disinformation or manipulation: the report this network details consisted of only 14 accounts.
> There's also a built-in compensating factor: To the extent that twitter accounts are worthless, it's easy to buy them. To the extent that twitter accounts are an important part of your identity online, people will tend to protect them. Try getting people to sell you their social security numbers.
> Right now they're closer to the "worthless" end of that spectrum. But maybe verification would change that?
I guess I'm disputing the presumption that Twitter accounts will ever be that valuable across all the members of society that the risk of loosing access to Twitter will be enough of a deterrent to any particular rando out there. Twitter's appeal seems to be mainly limited to certain slices of society (e.g. politicians, political pundits, and wannabes), and there are probably far more people outside those slices than inside them. If a rando waitress can get a verified Twitter account, and such accounts are useful for spreading disinformation, the GRU and black-hat PR agencies will probably be able to get all the accounts they'll ever need for something on the order of ~$100 a pop.
in this case, an average user selling verified account would risk legal and financial consequences. It's unlikely spammers and other bots would be able to afford buying such accounts in mass.
And additionally verified accounts would be out of touch for any censorship.
How about no.
Twitter could certainly make a new check system, but it would likely be (ab)used the sameway, eventually.
The complete failure of the PGP “web of trust” is a precedent.
Mismatched, or a missing left or right earring is a pretty strong tell for the GAN Faces I've seen. Mismatched ear shapes as well.
These of course go along with standard identification techniques like lighting, shadows, etc.
Do they just buy phone numbers for verification?
Download the Chrome extension and you can "adopt" bots which will be used to destroy more and more ad value.
Facebook already established it's fine to fake audience data to advertisers.
there is more out there than thispersondoesnotexist
Just imagine what real sophisticated, skilled and state-backed campaigns can do, undetected.
This is possibly a way to attack future tracking, thousands of GAN generated pictures of oneself to pollute databases.
It's hard to know if it will work since the databases can use the same reputation systems your friends will to keep their info clean. I guess in the coming war we will see.
That said, no big tech company is a simple tech company anymore. They've all become (arguably they always were) political, geopolitical, and adversarial entities.
Do no evil has never been the modus operandi of large corporations. They have always been amoral.
Anyone could do this, and there are plenty that would like Huawei to look bad.