Using Verification to Help Social Media Users Recognize Experts

Dallas Amico-Korby is a PhD candidate in Philosophy, David Danks is a Professor of Data Science & Philosophy, and Mara Harrell is Teaching Professor of Philosophy and Public Health at the University of California San Diego. Verification has become a hot topic for social media platforms of late. For example, both Twitter and Facebook are experimenting with paid verification, as well as different ways of distinguishing different types of users (blue check marks, gold check marks, and gray check marks abound!). Most of the focus around verification has been on authenticity and impersonation—how do we make sure that users can determine whether an account with the name “LeBron James” is actually LeBron James? But while authenticity and impersonation are surely important, we believe that verification can and should be used to do much more. Specifically, social media platforms should verify experts and use verification markers to help users recognize experts on their platforms.  When you type a query like “back pain relief exercises” into TikTok or Facebook’s video search, you’ll be presented with a wide variety of results: people claiming to be doctors with miracle advice “Dr. Bill’s 2 quick tips to alleviate back pain (INSTANTLY!)!”; people claiming insight from their own experiences “Back pain HACKS I discovered while recovering from surgery”; and people using medical jargon “3 Scoliosis stretches to improve spine curvature and reduce pain NOW.” For people with back pain and no medical training, sifting through these results to find quality information can be confusing and overwhelming….Using Verification to Help Social Media Users Recognize Experts