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The team that developed Rightmove helps launch a common sense addition to web infrastructure in a bid to clean up the Internet.
With online advertising largely unregulated, despite the huge role it plays in everyone's lives, internet users are increasingly worried about the barrage of advertisements that promote everything from villa rentals to dating sites. So many of these may be fakes or scams and it’s almost impossible for the average user to distinguish fraudulent ads from the real ones. With this in mind, NetSquared, the team that designed Rightmove has developed and helped launch advertSAFE (http://www.advertSAFE.com ), a common sense addition to the web that verifies whether people are who they claim to be online.
During the last couple of years alone, some of the worst fraudulent online advertisements have encouraged holidaymakers to book non-existent villas and apartments, while a bogus dating site - featuring fictitious soldiers in Afghanistan - lured financial contributions out of unsuspecting women. Meanwhile, Facebook estimates* that 8.7% of its active accounts are fake (that's 83 million accounts), 4.8% are duplicates (i.e. not the user’s main profile), 2.4% 'misclassified' (i.e. personal profiles being used for company purposes) and another 1.5% (14.3 million accounts) created specifically for dodgy reasons, such as spamming.
Aimed at all internet users, advertSAFE provides a unique way to verify online advertisers and weed out scams. It can help users across the web, whether they're buying and selling through individual websites or have accounts with sites such as online auctions, classified advertising, dating and personals, holiday rentals, employment and freelance job boards or social networks and communities. Members of advertSAFE get a verified digital badge or certificate to place on all their online ads and profiles.
David Davies, co-founder of advertSAFE, explains: "The internet is the place to buy, sell, connect with old friends, make new ones, pursue your passions, find a job or even love… and its potential is still growing every day. However, it's extremely hard to assess whether people and organisations are the real deal ... and equally hard to provide a verified ID of your own to other users."
He continues: "Thanks to advertSAFE, verifying other users and proving your own identity is quick, easy and dependable. In just a few clicks, individuals and businesses can join our growing community of trusted internet users. Internet users can be more confident about doing business or interacting with verified advertSAFE members."
For a business user, advertSAFE exists to reassure existing customers, attract new ones, check suppliers’ credentials and interact with other advertSAFE members. Three levels of membership exist: Basic, Standard and Premium. Basic membership, which is free of charge, provides email address verification, profile photo verification, downloadable verification certificate, basic ID badge and links to the member’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
Paying a £10 verification test fee opens up access to Standard membership, and a high test score (75% and above) grants the user Premium membership, which offers added benefits such as premium ID badge, profile view counter, Paypal payment gateway** and Skype online status indicator.
And anyone, member or not, can search for members by name, email address or ID number.
Concludes Mr Davies: "advertSAFE could conceivably follow in the footsteps of Twitter, Facebook and eBay as being a ubiquitous 'killer site' that enables the internet to be used with a higher degree of safety by its millions of users."