Social Vouching in web applications

Although announced last year, I only heard of Instagram’s new age verification tests this morning. In order to verify that you are above 18, Instagram will require users to choose one of the three methods of verification: a government-issued ID, a video selfie that an AI tool can then review, or a social vouching system where three of your followers can confirm you are over 18.

Social Vouching: This option allows you to ask mutual followers to confirm how old you are. The person vouching must be at least 18 years old, must not be vouching for anyone else at that time and will need to meet other safeguards we have in place. The three people you select to vouch for you will receive a request to confirm your age and will need to respond within three days.

The social vouching system to me is the most interesting, especially since I have been noodling over the idea of decentralized identity and verifications for a while. The system closely resembles the idea of Solidarity Lending which I first heard about when I read about Mohammad Yunus‘s Nobel Prize-winning work with the Grameen Bank.

Apple also has a social vouching system in place if you forget your apple id.

Web3 applications take this a step further with “M-of-N” (multisig) transactions where the “N” is the pre-defined community of individuals that collectively decide on how transactions should be carried out.

Multisig transactions are also referred to as M-of-N transactions, with M being the required number of signatures or keys and N being the total number of signatures or keys involved in the transaction.

The idea of a collective making confirming a claim is a core principle of decentralized systems and it is encouraging to see it starting to emerge in mainstream applications. Could we ever make a sign-up/sign-in system based on collective claims as mainstream and the cryptic oAuth flows we have today with singular entities verifying claims? Here’s hoping 🤞 !

Author: Arpit Mathur

Arpit Mathur is a Principal Engineer at Comcast Labs where he is currently working on a variety of topics including Machine Learning, Affective Computing, and Blockchain applications. Arpit has also worked extensively on Android and iOS applications, Virtual Reality apps as well as with web technologies like JavaScript, HTML and Ruby on Rails. He also spent a couple of years in the User Experience team as a Creative Technologist.

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