The security pitfalls of social media sites offering ID-based authentication

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Threat Source newsletter.

Since Elon Musk first started talking about purchasing Twitter/X around this time last year, one of his main sticking points has been how many bot accounts are on the platform and how that potentially affects advertising revenue and user counts.

In the latest advancement in the alleged fight against bots, X recently launched a government ID-based authentication process available to its paid premium users. The social media platform is partnering with a third-party security company to provide advanced, faster support to make it more difficult for others to impersonate the user.

The setup process says it involves the user taking a picture with their computer’s camera with their government-issued ID. According to X’s Verification Policy, the third-party company only keeps the provided picture for as long as it takes to verify the provided information, and any ID images are only kept for 72 hours. The information derived from the submitted pictures is stored for 30 days by the third party in the name of providing users “an opportunity to appeal a verification decision and for X to review your appeal.”

Meta, Facebook and Instagram’s parent company, has been rolling out a similar program called Meta Verified that also asks users to submit photos of a government ID and pay a subscription fee to receive “account verification with impersonation ..

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