Identity & Content Verification Guide: When to Ask and When Not To

Logo by @cass

There’s been a lot of comments and posts about sock puppets and catfish lately.

Sock Puppet:

online identity used for purposes of deception. Source


A catfish is someone who creates a false online identity. source

This has lead to some curators being a bit overzealous in requesting that a user identify themselves or provide “proof of life” through various verification methods.

This has also led to a debate among the @steemcleaners about the term Identity verification. After all, a person's identity does not need to be disclosed (real or fictitious) in order to prove the authenticity of creative works or content. We’ve reworked our comments to reflect this.

Anonymity and Why It Should Be Protected

There are numerous reasons a contributor may want to maintain their anonymity. A contributor may even have an alternate account in which they publicly verify their identity.

Reasons include:

  • Freedom of speech
  • Taboo subject matter
  • Work related issues including possible conflicts of interest, non-disclosure agreements, etc.
  • Retaliation from a government or other entity
  • Already having an online stalker on other sites or on
  • Safety from future online stalkers pursuing offline or to other sites
  • Presenting information so that it can be evaluated and critiqued without bias as to origin
  • Desire to interact while maintaining some degree of personal privacy (especially on a public immutable blockchain)
  • HNWI (High Net Worth Individuals) who wish to remain anonymous owing to the nature of their investment in Steemit.
  • Anonymous users may prefer to have their work voted on the merit of its quality than who they are or represent.

When to Ask for It

A common question is when to ask someone to “verify”. The simple answer is when you have found a reason to ask. From a previous steemcleaners report we outlined some of the following reasons and added some clarification:

  • Contributor claims to be someone known, i.e. Barry Cooper or Jeff Berwick
  • Contributor claims to write for
  • Contributor claims to be the creator of works found elsewhere on the internet
  • Curator found reasonable evidence to believe a contributor purchased a photo (e.g via posted for verification.
  • Curator found a photo taken from the internet and posted for verification.

When NOT to Ask for It

Anonymity should be respected unless there is a reason to question the authenticity or ownership of works in a contributors posts.

  • When no “online persona” is found of the contributor
  • When a contributor’s post contains original content that is not found anywhere else on the internet or in print.
  • Because you feel the anonymous author’s post is undeserving of its high payout.
  • Because the contributor's post seems fishy

How to Ask for It

Always be polite! Do not jump to conclusions. There have been many reports of identity thefts and plagiarism, when in fact, the contributor was the same person and their content was their original work.

The current comment template for @steemcleaners is:

Hello! Welcome to Steemit.

In order to prevent identity theft, identity deception of all types, and content theft we like to encourage users that have an online identity, post for a website or blog, are creators of art and celebrities of all notoriety to verify themselves. Verified users tend to receive a better reception from the community.

Any reasonable verification method is accepted. Examples include:

  • A post or tweet on an established facebook, twitter, Instagram or other social media account with a link to your contribution on Steemit.
  • A reference to their Steemit account on their website or blog.

Thank you!

Steemcleaners Action to Abusive Requests

Comments may receive a reply or a flag from @steemcleaners for:

  • Asking for verification when there is no reasonable “reason” or “proof” provided and a consensus among the group that it isn’t warranted could result in a reply to the comment
  • Repeatedly asking for verification when it isn’t warranted could result in a flag on the comment
  • Rudely asking or badgering a contributor could result in the comment being flagged
  • Witch hunting will result in the post/comment being flagged.

Types of Verification

Any reasonable method should be accepted by the community.

  • A post or tweet to an established facebook, twitter, or other social media account
  • A reference to their steemit account on their website or blog

For Those Wishing to Remain Anonymous

Ensure that the content you post cannot be found on other sites. Do a google search of images and text before posting.

A steemit member who wished to remain anonymous forgot they had posted some images on a site a year or so ago. Had the member not been informed and deleted their forgotten image account, this could have led to questions and a request for verification.

Don’t make claims you do not want to back up. If you claim to have been the inventor of xyz, the co-founder of xyz, that you are xyz from that xyz site, or that you are an influential employee of xyz this may lead to your identity being questioned.

Don’t mention your names (real or fictitious), age, date of birth, names of your family members, or other identifiable information. Either maintain complete anonymity with respect to your identity or maintain a reasonable public profile with a basic verification in place for your ID or your content.

Ask @steemcleaners - Future Q&A Posts

@steemcleaners will be doing a semi-regular post titled “Ask @steemcleaners” in the future. If you have a question that you feel we haven’t addressed on Identity & Content Verification please post it in the comments. Questions asked may be included in a future “Ask @steemcleaners” posts.


Good insight for those wishing to remain anonymous.

Obviously, @papa-pepper did not go that route, but still excellent food for thought.

I appreciate all that you are doing.

Going forward I am sure that some accounts will be better public and some private. It will just depend you need bother applications. Just like with money some transactions you want to be private and others you want to be public when in the form of something like a birthday gift you don't want to send it and have them wondering why you never sent them birthday money.

Thank for making it crystal clear for us. On a side note, Catfish and the Sockpuppets sounds like a great name for a band.

:D Theres was a local band here called the Glove Puppets

NOW things are headed into the right direction! Kudos!

Good explanation regarding verification and anonymity to work together and both be respected.

Seems to me folks on other social platforms that wish to bring that persona here can simply put a "follow me on Steemit" tag on their blogs, youtubes, etc etc...

I agree completely. There is far too much demanding of various things, identity included, too much riding shotgun on payouts and otherwise controlling the environment.

That was helpful. I did receive a verification method on one of my recent posts. It would be helpful to have a better identity verification method than posting on a twitter account or facebook account though.

I wrote an article 2 days ago on this issue. It seems we are pretty much on the same page.

I applaud what you all do for the Steemit community by helping to keep things tidy and honest.

Here's my thoughts if anyone is interested.

We should respect those who wished to remain anonymous.

I like the always be polite bit. It's so true, innocent till proven guilty so it's respectful to ask nicely

Great explanation of how things work!

many excellent thanks information

Interesting post!

Excellent, concise info. Thank you

Hi, I am trying to post my first official blog on Steemit and the system won't allow it, the message is, "Please remove the following HTML elements from your post: ins". I have checked and checked and simply do not know what the error message is referring to? Any help, please? Thanks.

You need to remove the html element from your post. The element you are using isn't supported. I would guess you are using the < ins> element from the message.

I appreciate this post, thank you :)

Really helpful! Thanks.

Hi @steemcleaners, stopping back to let you know that this post was one of my favourite posts yesterday. You can read my comments about the post here.

So. We decide whom to ask whom not to ask.

wow cool thanks i really like

The timing of this post is perfect for me as for the first time I may question/call out a post. Post has earned good money in 12 hours. Someone has already asked for verification a few hours ago as the content in the post is identical to that which is in a book the commenter found in a book. Waiting to see how the info plays out from both parties.

Did they claim to be the author of the book? If so I would say verification would be warranted in that situation. At least something that proves the name they wrote the book under ( remember many writers use pen names, as an example JK Rowling uses a male Pen name as well )

If the content was used as additional information which is placed in quotes (probably should be sourced) than verification would be out of line.

My opinions of course.

Nope - from what I saw, basically the whole post was content from a book verbatim. The poster did not use quotes or mention a source. The commenter pasted a picture of the content from the book and asked for verification.

I see @steemcleaners has commented in the post so it's on the radar now.

I have noticed your post was flagged by R4fken, well known steemit hater.

I am for justice and I am here with all my Steem Power to help you resist his hate downvotes and let your post be visible for steem users. Upvoted!

Hi @steemcleaners. I'm aware of an account posing as someone else (identity deception) in the act of posting non-consensual pornography here on Steemit.

It is @haughtyangel and I can provide you with contact information to the victim so that you can independently verify that @haughtyangel is in violation of terms of service of Steemit.

She has already made a takedown request because that account not only violates the Steemit terms of service but also computer crime laws in the state of California. (This was using the contact information provided by Steemit.) No reply from Steemit yet, though.

What are the best next steps for you @steemcleaners to investigate?

wow i love your blog has give me a great way to understand steemit a lot better
although i still need to learn more like for example upload my picture in my account , anyway i wanna follow you to gain more ideas and get a lot better here , thanks a lot

am enjoying learning all the stuff your posting - i am Daydreams4rock on many sites including Youtube Facebook Twitter and Reverbnation - i wrote the music that was originally the reason for the social media and now i am using the name here because it is mine.

This is great content! As an amature learning the ropes is important i dont want to offend anyone. This ia a great community. Thanks @steemcleaners !

@steemcleaners I recently came across a person using a very big Instagram influencer's name and images. In their description they say fan page, however each of their blog posts just feature a picture of her and nothing else (no image credit, no explanation that this isn't really her). Should I flag this content or ask them to abide by the rules of Steemit to avoid any risk of id theft/plagiarism?

how is the verification @steemcleaner? I ask for a little guide or tutorial with the picture to make it easier for me who is still a new user .. thanks you

I like that you recommend everybody maintain anonymity as a rule, and then verify or ask for verification of real-life identity (name, birthdate, etc) if there is a specific reason to.

I'm not doing anything wrong but I will always err on the side of privacy. I think we should all do so, because that protects the privacy of those who want it. Privacy can be given up, but not taken back.

why I was placed in the black list

How does one know they've been placed into "the black list"?

i now Cheetah
Ihope Naver Dislikes My Any Post Im Flaged Your 5 to 10 Post In
im Free For Flaged Your Any Post in Steemit and Other
Many Accounts
I hope You understand
can see tomorow Your 5 post how Flaged & baad Commenet
many high power channal report You
thanks you