Idris Elba Wants 'Mandatory' ID Verification On Social Media To End Racist Abuse Online

Photo: Denis Makarenko / Shutterstock
Idris Elba

Idris Elba has a proposal for social media sites to end racial abuse online — and it could involve all of us getting a blue checkmark. 

The “Luther” actor wants social media trolls to stop hiding behind fake profiles when spreading racially motivated hate online.

Elba recommended social media platforms make identity verification “mandatory” so “everyone knows who is speaking.”

The idea, which is being widely shared across social media, comes after several stars became victims of vicious racism online recently. 

Idris Elba has a proposal to end racism on social media. 

Elba’s suggestion was publicized in the aftermath of racist abuse targeted at England soccer stars players Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka, and Jadon Sancho after each missed a penalty in the Euro finals, leading to Italy’s victory. 

All three shared statements addressing the hateful messages they received after the game.

Rashford wrote on Twitter, "I can take critique of my performance all day long... but I will never apologize for who I am or where I came from."

Meanwhile, Saka directly called on social media platforms to take more responsibility in preventing racist abuse online, writing, "I knew instantly the kind of hate that I was about to receive and that is a sad reality that your powerful platforms are not doing enough to stop these messages."

The following week, Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton had his British Grand Prix win tarnished by racist abuse after a collision with Max Verstappen left his rival hospitalized.

Elba’s suggestion to require identity verification before launching a social media account offers a potential solution to the abuse many people of color face online.

"If cowards are being supported by a veil of privacy and secrecy, then social media is not a safe space," the actor concluded. "If cowards want to spout racial rhetoric then say it with your name, not your username."

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Do we trust social media sites enough to provide identification? 

The idea of scanning your I.D. or inputting facial recognition just to put out some tweets might sound somewhat dystopian, particularly in an age of growing distrust for Big Tech.

In fact, a proposal similar to Elba’s was already rejected by the U.K. government last year over fears that it would “interfere with freedom of expression.” 

But, giving out our information online isn’t too far from our current state.

How many of us have our credit card details saved on online shopping sites or have it auto-filled on our phones? 

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Verifying these details is essential in ensuring bad actors don’t exploit others online, so why should a comment section be any different? If you want to buy into the marketplace of ideas online, should you receive anonymity while doing so?

Those without necessary documents or those who don’t want to verify their identities can simply be restricted from commenting or messaging people on social media.

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Social media sites need better anti-racist action. 

If identity verification seems like extreme action, then perhaps that is a better signal than anything else that social media sites need to step up and offer simpler solutions to this widespread problem of racism and bullying online

In an age where a Google search you did can become a Facebook ad on your feed within minutes, it seems unforgivable that these sites haven’t made some kind of algorithm to recognize racism online. 

If we can recognize that Black sports stars having their comment sections flooded with monkey emojis is a clear racist attack, surely someone can figure out an algorithm to stop this.

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Alice Kelly is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Catch her covering all things social justice, news, and entertainment. Keep up with her Twitter for more.