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Open Letter to Mark Zuckerberg on Authenticity in the Digital World

posted Jun 1, 2018, 12:09 AM by Tomas Svoboda   [ updated Jun 4, 2018, 2:23 AM ]

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,

the impulse for writing this letter came to me from watching the confrontations to which you were subjected at the U.S. Congress and the European Parliament. While many of the U.S. congressmen have displayed pitiful cluelessness the Europeans have shown a dangerous blend of arrogance and masked ignorance. I hold no bias in favor of Facebook but I do appreciate your effort of bringing the social interaction to a global scale which has never been done before and cannot be expected to run without quirks and risks. This specifically is what the European MEPs have failed to recognize and have lost my respect in the process. My sympathy goes to you for the offenses you have had to endure. As a European I would like to offer my apology for the attitudes of our elected representatives.

I am writing this to offer you a direction ahead. I do believe that social communication on a global scale is here to stay - if it can find ways to handle certain specific issues which have become threats.

One of the important threats is the abuse of Facebook accounts for spreading fake and manipulative communications. Emitting such undesirable information is almost always tied to accounts without a credible connection to real persons. By that I mean either totally fake identities, kidnapped ones or those abandoned by their original owner. With such lack of authenticity those accounts can easily be abused to overwhelm real persons by their seeming numbers and persistency. I would like to see Facebook - as well as any other online communication environment - free of these malevolent abusers. The way to arrive close to that ideal seems quite simple: Authenticate the users.

Facebook can become the global standard in voluntary user authentication and identification - a most necessary building block of a global digital culture and governance.

This can be done on a purely voluntary basis. The user submits a proof of their real identity and will be tagged online as a real person - for public perusal on multiple independent sites. I for one would be happy to provide my authenticating information (passport number etc.) and opt for not seeing any content from non-authenticated users.

Many will protest against such attempt at global census a.k.a. global registration but I am deeply convinced that it is necessary for making the global online environment a more usable and safer place. I have arrived at this opinion when working on a paper and book on Global Governance which can be found at http://www.svobodat.com/governance to which you are sincerely invited.

I sincerely hope that this letter reaches you. To that end I am both publishing it online (at Medium.com and my blog and sending it by mail as well.

Best Regards

Dr. Tomáš Svoboda https://www.facebook.com/svobodat , www.svobodat.com

Prague, June 1, 2018