Racism: Idris Elba Says Social Media Platforms Should Verify All Users

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 10: Actor Idris Elba speaks to the media at the premiere of "The Mountain Between Us" during the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival at Roy Thomson Hall on September 10, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by J. Countess/WireImage)
Idris Elba | Image: GQ

Idris Elba has suggested that social media platform make it mandatory for people to identify themselves properly before creating an account.


The British actor made this statement on his Instagram page in light of the recent spate of trolling and racial abuse on social media.

“People in the public eye get verified on social media, (symbolised by a blue tick), the process of verification requires them to prove their IDENTITY, so everyone knows WHO is speaking,” Elba wrote.

“SOCIAL MEDIA COMPANIES SHOULD MAKE THIS MANDATORY FOR ALL USERS,” he added. The “Beasts Of No Nation” actor explained that allowing users to create accounts without identifying themselves is similar to “boarding a plane and not having to show I.D.”

“If cowards are being supported by a veil of privacy and secrecy, then social media is not a safe space. It is an aeroplane that allows travellers to wear balaclavas.” A balaclava, also known as ski mask, is a form of cloth headgear designed to expose only part of the face, usually the eyes and mouth.

Elba concluded that, “if cowards want to spout racial rhetoric then say it with your name, not your username.”


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A post shared by Idris Elba (@idriselba)

Elba’s proposition comes after social media platforms were inundated with racist messages and posts directed at three Black players on England’s football team, following a tough loss to Italy last week in the UEFA Euro 2020 championship match.

According to Instagram’s help center website, users can voluntarily request verification for their account by submitting government-issued I.D. or business documents proving their identity, but not everyone eligible for verification will be awarded it. Those approved for verification get a blue checkmark symbol next to their account, but the distinction is usually given to celebrities or businesses rather than the average user.

Twitter also verifies users with a similar blue tick. According to the platform’s help centre, one may choose one of three methods of verifying your identity:

  • Official website: Provide the link to an official website that references you (or your organization) and your Twitter account.
  • ID verification: Provide a photo of an official government issued identification document, such as your Driver’s License or Passport.
  • Official email address: Provide an official email address with a domain relevant to the notability category you choose.

In Idris Elba’s home country, there is a petition with over 686,000 signatures on the UK government website requesting that an I.D. be required in order to sign up for a social media account.

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