While Twitter wants to sell its verification, Microsoft will do it for free on LinkedIn
Redmond expands a digital ID process for its platform as Musk seeks cash for blue check marks
As Elon Musk tears at Twitter's credibility by demanding businesses and individuals pay for their blue verification checks, Microsoft is pushing its own free digital ID tech to companies and their employees on LinkedIn.
Later this month, Microsoft will let organizations use its Verified ID tool to prove their workers' employment, with staff then being able to display that employment verification on their LinkedIn profiles.
Like the trust the unpaid-for blue check mark on Twitter once conveyed, the Verified ID on LinkedIn will show that the people on the business-focused network – which has about 900 million users – work at where they say they work.
"By simply looking for a Verification, members and organizations can be more confident that the people they collaborate with are authentic and that work affiliations on their profiles are accurate," wrote Joy Chik, president of identity and network access at Microsoft.
Verified ID is a managed identify verification service that is part of Microsoft's Entra product portfolio, an umbrella unit created last year that covers all of the vendor's identity and access capabilities. It's a tool in the company's larger push for a decentralized approach to digital identities.
"In our everyday lives, we use identity documents like driver's licenses or passports as convenient and secure ways to prove our identity," Chik wrote. "Until now, we have not had a good digital equivalent."
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Verified ID is built on open standards as a decentralized identity process in which an organization cryptographically signs a digital credential and issues it to an employee as a company ID. The employee can then use that with apps and websites, an approach that "represents a more secure, convenient, and trustworthy way to verify digital information at scale," she wrote.
That's how it will work with LinkedIn, which Microsoft bought in 2016 for $26.2 billion. Organizations with a subscription for Azure Active Directory – also part of Entra – can use Verified ID to create customized digital employee IDs that include the company's brand and business. Employees of those companies who have a digital ID and want to put it on their LinkedIn profile will have to send their credentials.
Once that's in, the workplace verification is displayed on the profile, complete with a blue check mark (one that doesn't look like Twitter's) and a statement that the employee has verified they work for the company.
Microsoft is testing the LinkedIn process both internally and with more than 70 companies that include services firms Accenture and Avanade, with plans to roll it out at the end of the month.
Twitter goes in another direction
The LinkedIn program comes as Twitter's push to get users to pay for their blue check marks looms with an April 20 deadline. Under the new payment method, organizations will have to pay $1,000 a month for gold check marks while individuals must shell out $7 a month.
The New York Times and Politico both said they would not pay Twitter for check marks or reimburse employees if they choose to pay for theirs. The White House also said it wouldn't pay, and NPR has declined to use its accounts as well.
Musk last year paid $44 billion for a social media platform that reportedly is now worth less than half of that. However, he has been talking about making Twitter an "everything app" and is taking steps in that direction, from merging the biz with X Corp to allowing users to trade stocks through eToro, a "social trading company."
Beyond employment verification, Microsoft sees Verified ID as being usable in myriad ways, from background checks and helping desk support to helping with hiring by being able to verify the prospect's identity and qualifications.
The need for decentralized IDs
The goal of such decentralized IDs is to allow a person's digital identity to follow them as they move through Microsoft's online world, similar to how an individual's driving license can be used to board an airplane or open a bank account.
"Until now, no digital identity could offer similar benefits," Microsoft wrote in a white paper. "Whether for a popular social platform or a work account, a digital identity has always been controlled by the organization that issued it. As the digital sphere takes a foothold in every aspect of our lives, this needs to evolve."
A decentralized identity has an underlying network – called a "trust system" – that is based on either a blockchain or non-blockchain protocols, such as DID:Web, which establishes trust based on a domain's existing reputation.
"Regardless of the protocol, a Trust System is always available to you – no matter where you are or when you need access," the company wrote, adding that at the foundation of such a system are decentralized identifiers and verifiable certifications.
They "comprise a new digital identity that enables trust for users and protects their privacy across organizational boundaries. With their new digital identity, an individual can take ownership and control of their credentials, presenting these to websites, apps, and organizations to confirm their identity." ®