Clicky

badge

Thursday, September 13, 2007

How Google can make Orkut a better place on net (A suggestion)

Google (NYSE:GOOG) run community and social networking site Orkut.com has of late become a lawless jungle aiding all criminal and illegal activities. While several bloggers and media have written a lot either supporting or blaming orkut, in this post I try to find a solution for this, a suggestion which appears expensive but if implemented will make Orkut a much much better and safer place on internet.

Current concerns with orkut:

1.Allows anonymity,
2. No counter check mechanism to prevent creation of fake profiles,
3. One individual may have multiple online identities with different user names,
4. Physical identity of a member is difficult to trace,
5. Profiles are twisted with malicious intentions.

What is the solution?
Verify physical identity of each member by collecting a physical copy of their identity proof (Passport, Driving License etc).

How to go about it?
Verifying identity of millions of members will be a time consuming and expensive process, but this will give lots of benefits as explained later in this post. In essence, Google should insist that all members should send (by snail mail/fax/email) a copy of their identity proof to the nearest Google office (or to a trusted agency’s office to which this work is outsourced).

Once the proof is received, it needs to verified and mapped to corresponding Orkut user ID, with one field called full name and one profile photo replaced with the photo and name in the identity proof and these 2 are to be made non editable. While user may change his/her nick name, add/delete other photos, these two primary information remain unchanged serving as online identity proof.

Next Google should send a new PIN number/passcode by post to the residential address (as in address proof) given by the member which he/she shall be required to enter online once. This verifies the physical address of the member

Why this solution would work?

Because almost all members who get involved in unlawful and bad activities often use false identity. If we can ensure that no one can come online with a fake identity, most of the problems should get resolved, because usually people do not dare do such activities under their real identity which they otherwise would have done without hesitation under a false name.

Advantages:
1. Those who have fake profiles will fail to provide an identity proof (chances of some one being capable of fake identity proof as well is relatively rare), hence all fake profiles can be identified and removed over a period of time.

2. One will not be able to impersonate someone else or have dozens of identities.
Orkut will contain only those individuals whose identity is verified, which brings down online crime rate since a member can be easily traced if he/she indulges in illegal activities online.

3. Net worth of each member will increase and advertisers will also be happy to pay more, since only genuine members are left.

4. Google will have ready identity and credentials of millions of users which is an asset in itself.

5. Prevents Google’s image from getting tarnished on the event of cyber crime.
Google verified online identity may also serve as identity proof for other online activities outside orkut.

orkut demographics
Disadvantages:

1. Advertising revenue may drop for Google in initial days since majority of usage is by fake profile users than genuine ones.

2. Collecting physical identity proofs and processing it would require considerable amount of money and effort which Google should be willing to spend

3. Google should be able to take responsibility that the physical identity proofs submitted by members wont land in wrong hands (who may wish to use that data for marketing purpose etc)

4. Many users who use Orkut to explore their fantasies under false identity will be discouraged from using orkut altogether (Reduced advertising revenue)

While it looks like a cumbersome process to check each member credentials, I feel it is very much feasible and worth investing in. Google has a similar mechanism for Adsense publishers wherein a valid physical contact address is a must. Some expense can be recovered by sending relevant advertisements by post. That can be extended to Orkut users as well.

Let me know what you think of this idea... Good? Not Feasible? Please drop a comment.

Related: Yaari Desktopdating and other ill mannered websites| Orkut and Employee productivity|Orkut as Marketing Tool * A missing feature in our social networking sites

More: Orkut Login page| Hari’s post on Orkut|Why hate hate communities?

3 comments :

hari said...

Sorry Shrinidhi. I totally disagree. That's just unfeasible.

Orkut is supposed to be a non-serious, fun thing. Making it so officious will just defeat the whole purpose of it.

And besides, being anonymous is actually better for your safety online...

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Fine Hari, My idea was to eliminate fake profiles. Let people indulge in fun with their real identity.

When all users are authenticated, it eliminates most of the danger.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Comments received for this post when it was published in Mouthshut.com:

nitesh1104 said:
Sep 14, 2007 09:59 AM

I agree that there are scopes for improvement and Google should seriously look into this but I guess too much of restriction can snitch the charm…

Cheers,
Ambuj :)

enidhi said:
Sep 14, 2007 10:54 AM

The sole restriction I’m expecting that users should have a real life existance and should be treacable.
Chintu25 said:
Sep 14, 2007 10:57 AM

Shrini...the idea to improve the auntheticity at Orkut is very very welcome....

But what is the guarantee that the pastport or whatever proof of identity a person send would be authentic? The process would be too cumbersome for all Google, people who want to join etc....there should be a better way out...I think the sites like Facebook have learned lessons from Orkut and is far more stringent these days....

keep writing...

smita
hakoonamatata said:
Sep 14, 2007 02:58 PM

Very well organised review.

I too share the purpose of this exercise, should Google undertake it. Its a question of business sense for Google, and whether they plan to project Orkut as an authentic community. I heard that members could only join through references initially, but it seems to be free for all. The older strategy could have kept a decent check over malicious practices, because somewhere in the reference chain, there would be true members.

I hope this idea is considered by Google while planning Orkut’s long term vision.
enidhi said:
Sep 14, 2007 03:43 PM

Smita: It is unlikely that ordinary people will venture into faking Driving license and passport, even if they want to, it will be quite tough.

While my measure doesn’t ensure 100% purity, it should succeed in cleaning up orkut to a reasonable extent.

Hakoonamatata...

Yes, Gmail was by invitation only in initial days. Not now.

Paulsb02 said:
Sep 14, 2007 06:10 PM

Hai Srinidhi,

Good opinion there. Great one.

However, as you said correctly which will reduce the number of members considerably and substantial damage to the profitability of the site.

From the customer point of view also, it is not a good idea to give away our identity to sources which exist in other countries.

Good work.

Keep writing.

Paul

enidhi said:
Sep 15, 2007 10:58 AM

Paul:

If Google sets up enough meaures to ensure that personal information will not be misused, we can trust it. (That’s my opinion)
nidhi