How do you know if someone’s online profile is real? The question has plagued us for some time now, but it’s become increasingly problematic as vast swatches of the mainstream of society goes online and joins a social network, whether it be Twitter, Facebook, or whatever. The problem is of course rife on dating web sites.
One of the ways celebrities who arrived early on Twitter verified their profile was to Twitpic themselves in front of their Twitter profile. But now a new startup has taken this verification idea to its logical conclusion. CheckedProfile launches today in the US, but is actually the brainchild of long-time UK entrepreneur Ben Way, who is now based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Here’s how it works.
You upload your profile picture. The site then provides a custom identifier that is unique to that picture. You then write the identifier on a sheet of paper and take a picture of yourself holding that page. With those two pictures uploaded and a flled-out CheckedProfile account, an “expert profile checker” verifies that the person in both images is the same. You are then free to use your CheckedProfile verified photograph any where you want to prove your real identity online. CheckedProfile is even looking to have other levels of verification such as date of birth, name and address, though I’m not quite sure how.
The sting is that while it’s free for women and children, it’ll be $1.99 for men. Additional photographs are $0.99 for everyone. “Priority verification” (verification in one hour or less) is $0.99 per photograph but normal E-mail address verification is free for all.
Sorry guys. I guess no-one really believe that online dating profile of yours, right? In fact, the site says over 80% of online daters have suspected that the profile images being used online are fakes and over a third have actually discovered that a person’s identity does not match that of their online persona. No. Kidding…
CheckedProfile claims it has patented this whole process – although to be honest it sounds pretty replicable. And what I don’t get is why they can’t apply a facial recognition technology to this process or perhaps crowd-source it – because having humans checking profile does not scale.
But Way insists that they “have an incredibly efficient back end” that takes on average 20 seconds to verify a photo, and that other facial recognition technologies are not up to the job yet. Plus, this is quite Mahalo-esque – trained checkers can work from home and get paid per check.
Update: I wasn’t previously aware of Validize which is more aimed at bloggers, but is an interesting contrast.