Idris Elba Says Everyone On Social Media Should Be Verified To Combat 'Cowards'

In a recent Instagram post, Idris Elba made a call for the end of online anonymity as an action against the spread of hateful content on social media, calling others to arms with him by telling them to share if they agreed and say less if they didn't.

But what sparked this stance, and is it truly the best course of action when it comes to lessening hate online?

Idris Elba took to Instagram recently to speak out on a subject he feels passionate about: online abuse.

In his post, he suggests an idea to combat the mass amounts of hate sent across the web daily, one that touches on the concept of verified accounts like his own.

"People in the public eye get verified on social media, (symbolised by a blue tick), [...]" His post begins.

"[...] the process of verification requires them to prove their IDENTITY, so everyone knows WHO is speaking. SOCIAL MEDIA COMPANIES SHOULD MAKE THIS MANDATORY FOR ALL USERS."

He compares the ability to be completely anonymous online to being able to board planes without identification.

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He says to exist anonymously online is to be supported by "a veil of privacy and secrecy," making social media not a safe space.

"If cowards want to spout racial rhetoric then say it with your name, not your username," he wrote.

His post comes after a number of black British athletes have been the victims of online attacks recently.

Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton was sent waves of abuse following his winning of the British Grand Prix, and British soccer players Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, and Bukayo Saka, a photo of whom Elba posted a photo of, were targeted as well following England's loss against Italy in the Euro 2020 final.

In fact, several months ago, many soccer players and clubs boycotted social media for several days in protest of the unchecked racial abuse that runs rampant.

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They were demanding changes similar to what Elba had posted: real-name policies and the outlawing of anonymity on social media accounts. There was even a petition created to make ID verification mandatory when creating social media accounts. That petition received almost 700,000 signatures and will be sent to U.K. parliament.

However, there are reasons for online anonymity, and scrapping it entirely could be dangerous for some people.

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While it's true that bigots might be less likely to say such vile things with their names attached to the words, some rely on digital anonymity for their safety.

One example given by Hussein Kesvani in an article for The Guardian is, "[...] the enforcement of mandatory ID verification could place vulnerable groups of people – from whistleblowers to persecuted minority groups seeking refuge – at significant risk." And those are only two examples of who these regulations could harm, let alone people who are victims of domestic abuse and stalking.

So while the intention is good, the abolishment of online anonymity as Elba suggested is not a perfect solution.

Instead, it'd be better to tackle the underlying issues, and have social media platforms actually enforce their rules against abusive content.

As Kesvani wrote, "Perhaps mandatory verification would limit the amount of openly racist abuse on the social platforms we all use, but it ignores the reasons why it is so prevalent and why it has so much purchase in these digital environments."

What do you think? Should everyone be verified on social media, or is there a better way to reduce online abuse? Let us know in the comments!