Stop Fake News and Misguided Social Media Messaging While Alleviating Cybersecurity Risks: Ensure User Anonymity
Featured Article Written By – Scott Watnik
The proliferation of fake social media accounts is one of the biggest threats to democracy in today’s world. Using fake accounts, cybercriminals impersonate others and spread fake information across the world in an effort to influence all aspects of society; everything from how people vote to the products they buy. According to a Pew study, over 62% of American receive their news from social media websites.1 Arguably, fake news is now more prevalent on social media platforms than “real” news.
The dissemination of fake news by bots and cybercriminals not only has the effect of misleading the public, but it undermines public trust in the media and government. Indeed, the spread of fake news intensifies conflict, and may even incite wars under entirely false pretenses. It is easy to see how manipulating people’s perception of reality in this manner incites conflict and can even unnecessarily cause wars to happen. Moreover, because no one knows what is “real” and what is not, fake news undercuts the peoples’ ability to participate in the governance of their country, including voting on a truly informed basis and holding their leaders accountable for the “real” version of events that is actually transpiring. Stopping bots, cybercriminals and even governments from creating fake accounts on internet platforms should thus be one of humanity’s most important goals in today’s world.
Enter humanId – One-Click Anonymous Sign On (“humanID”), located online at www.human-id.org.
I first encountered humanID when one of its members reached out to me over LinkedIn to ask if I was open to chatting about the organization. Although I had never heard of humanID before, as a litigation attorney at Wilk Auslander LLP in New York City, who also serves as the co-chair of my law firm’s cybersecurity practice, I was intrigued and responded, hoping to learn about the platform and potentially offer my assistance.
After learning more, I found humanID to possess the potential to revolutionize the internet: not only to thwart the proliferation of fake social media accounts spreading fake news across the globe, but to also stop online platforms from tracking users’ internet usage history, search functions and other private information. Additionally, because humanID ensures user anonymity, websites that employ its sign-in method will alleviate their potential liability for hacks under the cybersecurity laws which have become progressively more rigorous across all fifty states, and could even potentially lower the cost of cybersecurity insurance coverage.
Here’s how this new tech can help us; humanID is a non-profit organization whose mission is to revolutionize the Internet by creating an individual, untraceable identity on every internet platform. Specifically, humanID – a 2019 participant in Harvard University’s Innovation Lab –has created a new single sign-in service that replaces conventional site-specific logins. When users login in through humanID, the service creates an individual and untraceable identity for them. humanID encrypts phone numbers and email addresses, securing them from advertisers as well as hackers and other bad actors. Although humanID’s
database stores users’ country codes, it relinquishes access to the rest of the information about you that it encrypts.
humanID employs a built-in verification system that requires each user to have a unique phone number and SIM card. This built-in verification process is humanID’s crowning achievement. These requirements (among certain “humanity” checks) ensure that the user is “human” and thus impede non-human identities from creating fake accounts. Indeed, according to humanID’s estimates, bots that can potentially comply with these sign-in requirements are up to 40 times more expensive to create than bots that do not have such capabilities. Moreover, because humanID ensures that user profiles remain anonymous, by extension users’ search history and internet usage data remains anonymous too.
About Scott Watnik
Scott is a member of the litigation department at Wilk Auslander LLP and serves as co-chair of the Firm’s Cybersecurity practice. He has represented business owners, partnerships, financial institutions, hedge funds, governmental entities, insurers, manufacturers, shareholders, and corporate board members and executives in numerous securities, shareholder, antitrust, breach of contract, employment, and civil RICO litigations in federal and state courts across the country. Scott has also represented individuals in connection with high-stakes trust and estates, and intellectual property disputes. Scott’s client base is diverse, spanning the fields of manufacturing, retail, investing and insurance