Social media and dating apps have a serious identity problem – TechCrunch

Social media and dating apps have a serious identity problem – TechCrunch

Rick Song is co-founder and CEO of Persona.

More posts by this contributor

It’s time for social media and dating apps to face the music and curb fraud, deception and disinformation on their platforms once and for all.

In the beginning, social media and dating apps represented small corners of the internet with just a handful of users. Today, Facebook and Twitter are so big they influence elections, make or break vaccine campaigns, and move markets.

Dating apps like Tinder and Bumble are not far behind, with millions upon millions of people looking to their services to meet their “forever” mate.

But the fun and games are over now. You’ve chosen profit over trust and safety. You have created a gateway for identity theft and online fraud.

Today we all have a friend who’s been “catfished” on Bumble or Tinder; we all have family members who’ve been victimized by online Twitter and Facebook scams. Every day, we hear of new cases where malicious actors steal identities — or create fake new ones — to commit fraud, spread misinformation for political and commercial gain, or promote hate speech.

In most industries, users with fake identities really only impact the business. But when trust is broken on dating and social platforms, it harms users and society at large. And the financial, psychological — and sometimes physical — impact on a person is real.

So who’s accountable for stopping or combating this rise in fraud? Clearly, not the platforms themselves. Although some claim to be taking action.

In the fourth quarter of 2020, Facebook took down 1.3 billion fake accounts. Enough? Not even close. The fact is social platforms and dating apps today do the bare minimum to prevent fraud. While basic AI and human moderators help, they are outmatched by the sheer volume of users.

Facebook says it has 35,000 people checking content; that’s a legion, but it works out to roughly one moderator for every 82,000 accounts. And as bad actors grow more sophisticated by the day, using deepfakes and evolving crime techniques like synthetic fraud, their scale continues to increase. Even savvy online users fall prey to these cons.

Social and dating platforms have come under fire for moving slowly to combat the problem, but what can be done?

Catfishing is serious business

It’s not difficult to imagine this scenario: You meet someone online and start a conversation. The person says the right things, asks the right questions. The relationship starts to feel “real” and you begin to sense kinship. Before you know it, it escalates; all your guards are down and you become impervious to red flags. You go as far as calling it love.

You and your new significant other make plans to finally meet in person. They claim they don’t have money for the trip. You trustingly and lovingly send the money, only for this person to ghost shortly after.

While some catfishing incidents resolve on their own with minimal harm inflicted, others — like the example above — can lead to financial extortion and criminal …….