Thanks to the invention of social media, anyone can divulge their opinions on just about anything, and it is also perhaps the most prominent platform to exercise one’s First Amendment rights. However, actor Idris Elba believes some people abuse that power and it often leads to cyberbullying and even racist attacks online. Recently, the star from the film “The Dark Tower” provided a possible solution as a way that social media executives can remedy the issue, starting with a little bit of visibility.
In a written post uploaded to his Instagram account on Sunday, July 18, the British star wrote, “People in the public eye get verified on social media (symbolized by a blue tick), the process of verification requires them to prove their IDENTITY, so everyone know WHO is speaking.” Elba believes this exclusive badge should be “MANDATORY FOR ALL USERS.”
The 43-year-old later compared the current admission process of social media to “boarding a plane and not having to show I.D.” But, he added, “THAT would never happen.”
He continued, “ If cowards are being supported by a veil of privacy and secrecy, then social media is not a safe space. It is an aeroplane that allows travellers to wear balaclavas.” The actor concluded his statement by imploring cowards who “want to spout racial rhetoric” to be transparent about their identity and “say it with your name, not your username.”
Elba’s idea, however, was met with some pushback. While many users view being verified on social media as typically being an option for celebrities, public figures, brands that are more likely to be impersonated online, aforementioned, it does require an individual to provide some personal information about themselves. For Instagram, their verification process requires applicants to provide either a government-issued photo I.D., whether it be a driver’s license or passport. Other document options include tax filing or a recent utility bill.
While Elba’s post received over 240,000 likes, critics were wary of the idea of losing their anonymity while online, including one user who wrote, “Whilst I agree, social media companies cannot be trusted enough to safely handle personal data.” Another user commented, “Not a good solution. Anonymity & privacy is important in this new data driven world.” That person added, “Cowardice is the issue here, correct. Different solution needed.”
Still, there were those who saw Elba’s point like one person who commented, “They have the power/technology to sensor anti covid posts instantly so no excuse for not doing the same for the racists posts.”