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sixfootewok
Community Member

Moral Objections with Video Verification

A friend who is active on Upwork stumbled on this verification method just today.

I have never had a company try to connect, via video, to verify any information. This seems absolutely intrusive, to demand that someone connect to a call without any other option when there are a *multitude* of ways to verify your identity. 

Upwork, what if you customers have anxiety, what if they can't actually speak or have other impairments or difficulties, what if they don't have the proper equipment to complete the call? What if *they'd prefer not to connect with and be recorded by someone they don't know* when video doesn't even seem like it's any more verifiable than asking security questions.  

I was blown away by how absurd and invasive this is. Does anyone else feel this way?

19 REPLIES 19
olivia_oltmanns
Community Member

Not even PayPal asks for video conference to verify identity. Why is a State ID/National Identity Card acceptable for PayPal, yet not enough for Upwork? You also cannot opt out of this feature. 

 

It feels completely intrusive and will put a lot of people off from using this site. 

cartrellgeneral
Community Member

With all of the scammers out there stealing identities I have absolutely no problem with this. It's no different from having a video or in-person interview with someone. This was put into place because of issues with people claiming to be someone or somewhere they weren't. This is an Upwork practice and it's up to the freelancer whether or not it's worth it. As someone who is doing quite well on Upwork, I would say for me it's worth it.

kochubei_valeria
Community Member

Jonathan and Olivia,

 

I understand your concern and we also wish we didn't have to ask our users to complete video verification. However, unfortunately, some accounts are used to violate Upwork ToS and misrepresent information about the user. Video verification currently is the best way for us to identify such accounts, protect our genuine users, and maintain trust and security on the marketplace. If anybody has any specific issues with the process, we encourage them to communicate with the team via the support ticket that's created.

 

Thanks.

~ Valeria
Upwork


@Valeria K wrote:

Jonathan and Olivia,

 

I understand your concern and we also wish we didn't have to ask our users to complete video verification. However, unfortunately, some accounts are used to violate Upwork ToS and misrepresent information about the user. Video verification currently is the best way for us to identify such accounts, protect our genuine users, and maintain trust and security on the marketplace. If anybody has any specific issues with the process, we encourage them to communicate with the team via the support ticket that's created.

 

Thanks.


 ____________________________

 

Valeria,

 

I am deeply offended that Upwork felt that my account fell into the category you mention and that I have highlighted in red. 

 

Isn't it time that Upwork verified a few clients who most certainly do not care about "maintaining trust and security" and whose accounts are misrepresentative and "violate Upwork's ToS"? A few "clients" for example, who cheat Upwork, freelancers and academic bodies.  

I'm sorry you feel this way, Nichola. 

Please know that the video verification is being rolled out to both new and old freelancers. I would like to clarify that the freelancers who are asked to do a video verification are randomly selected. While this specific program is geared toward freelancers, please know we do have multiple programs in place to screen and remove fraudulent client profiles as well.   


~ Avery
Upwork

Avery: 

 

How does randonly selecting users to prove their identity via video conference to 'insure that theyre abiding by the TOS' an effective way of improving public trust with the company?

 

It would make sense if an account was flagged as suspicious, if they had reached a threshold of funds recieved, or jobs applied to, but random?

 


@Olivia O wrote:

Avery: 

 

How does randonly selecting users to prove their identity via video conference to 'insure that theyre abiding by the TOS' an effective way of improving public trust with the company?

 

It would make sense if an account was flagged as suspicious, if they had reached a threshold of funds recieved, or jobs applied to, but random?

 


 ------------

 

First, it would be best to do this as proactively as possible. Let's not wait until someone is burned before doing some due diligence. 

 

Second, it would actually be best to verify ALL accounts with video. However, to do that would hold up new freelance accounts for a very long time and require either a high cost burden to administer all of these video checks or massively extended waits to get on the platform. A difficult problem.

 

Third, when you don't go random you are either being reactive and will be accused of not doing enough to prevent malfeasance before the act, or you will be accused of unfairly profiling. Neither of those any business wants to get near. 

I have tried and tried and tried to get UpWork to understand that I don't have a WebCam. Recently my microphone went dead too.
I have just been on a quite costly trip to the Thai embassy in order to renew my Visa, and then the first thing I see when I want to top up my bank account again from my UpWork account is that UpWork have placed a hold on my account and my available money there, and they claim it is for "my safety" or "my security".
Everybody else, all over the world, have no problems with my identity and papers, and now I am treated like a criminal from UpWork.
I live in the middle of nowhere, something I chose in order to get peace of mind, fed up with big cities and stress. Here, nobody speaks English, most people are farmers, most don't have computers. Even if somebody could lend me equipment, it would be a nightmare beyond belief to try to explain for them.
With this video-conversation-demand, UpWork has left me without access to my account and funds and claims to be protecting my interests. They are doing nothing of the sorts. They leave me without money, they block me from work, and they say they are good...
In short, their tech-solution is very much comparable to a hospital only accepting calls from land-lines. Tough luck if you have an accident and only have your mobile phone!
With this demand, UpWork is excluding people, generating a social class distinction... this, in addition, to piss people off, which they don't care about because they seem to be too big.


Hi Morten,

 

I`m sorry about the inconvenience this had caused you. 
I checked your tickets and I can see that you have followed up directly on your ticket with more questions. One of our team members will post an update as soon as possible and assist you further with your verification. Thank you.

~ Goran
Upwork
prestonhunter
Community Member

Jonathan:

If somebody has moral objections to video verification, that's fine.

 

Nobody is required to undergo Upwork video verification.

 

There are benefits to doing so, and if somebody wants those benefits, they can do the verification.

 

As a practical matter, nobody is required to use Upwork at all.

 

re: "Upwork, what if you customers have anxiety, what if they can't actually speak or have other impairments or difficulties, what if they don't have the proper equipment to complete the call?"

 

It is not my intention to make light of your concerns. But you sound like someone who has never personally undergone video verification or made the attempt to contact Upwork to work with them about any specific issues involving this process. I have personally undergone video verification, and I can tell you from first-hand experience that you are worried about this in ways that you don't need to be. This is not an interrogation or a test or a "gotcha" kind of thing. This is a security precaution. Your specific examples of concerns actually demonstate some of the things Upwork deals with and works around.

Well, I had to do it just two or three weeks ago, and I made a big fuss. It was my bed time, I had to change browsers, I was in my pajamas,  and  I was ready to bite anyone who came within range. I also had to display my passport. 

 

What annoyed me most is that it is not a two-way video. They can see you, but you can't see them. God knows who I gave my details to - but I haven't heard back from anyone and my account is still open. If anyone dares question me again - I shall take it to some authority in the EU. I'm pretty sure that, in this part of the world, verification of this kind is a no-no - just sayin' Upwork. Don't pull this one on me again.  

 

ETA: Preston, you are wrong. It is obligatory; Your account gets suspended if you don't comply. 

 

This is exactly what I'm speaking towards.

re: "Preston, you are wrong. It is obligatory; Your account gets suspended if you don't comply."

 

Nobody is required to maintain an account on Upwork.

 

If maintaining an account on Upwork actually required me to violate genuine moral beliefs of mine, then I wouldn't do it.

There appear to be several different items in play here. There is the idea that UW should not require video verification at all and then there is the idea that video is fine but there needs to be greater transparency and leeway for preparation. 

 

While I am sympathetic to those that are opposed to video verification, I do think that UW needs to go to these lengths (and more) to ensure the integrity of the platform. I cannot begin to tell you the number of people who copied verbatim my profile and I am just one person. fraudulent freelance accounts are a real issue and they do degrade UW to detriment of all legitimate freelancers here. One could object to having their photo taken for a passport or driver's license; however, it's done based on the greater good. The reality is that it's impossible to please everyone while at the same time improving security and integrity.  In that respect, just like a passport or driver's license, one can decide to not travel out of country, operate a vehicle, or become a freelancer on UW. To the extent that there are other technologies that can do the same or better (without a significant cost burden) then certainly I would not object to moving to that and removing the video requirement. 

 

The second point concerning the immediate suspending of accounts or people being forced to take video calls at inconvenient times, is indeed another issue. It's been a while since I did the video verification, but I do recall being able to set something up. The call was quick and over and I didn't have to hold up any other verification. I absolutely agree there should be latitude in arranging a convenient time and accounts should not be immediately held unless there is an actual concern on UW's part that a specific profile is suspect. For routine random checks, a period of say 1 week should be sufficient for both parties. 

 

Like dealing with airport security, there are things we have to endure to improve safety but even that only goes so far before a line is crossed. I don't think video verification crosses the line but like the TSA, there are always improvements to process that can be made to the betterment of both parties. 

Nichola L, why did you talk in the midle of the night?

I answered 24 hours after the email, and everything was fine. 

 


@Daniela P wrote:

Nichola L, why did you talk in the midle of the night?

I answered 24 hours after the email, and everything was fine. 

 


 ________________________

Because I had a really heavy schedule for the following day starting early in the morning. I wanted to get it over and done with. And because my account was suspended until I did it. 

Nichola L wrote:

What annoyed me most is that it is not a two-way video. They can see you, but you can't see them. 

 

Agreed.  I found that very disconcerning.  Some nerve, if you ask me.

Anonymous-User
Not applicable

I had no problem with it. The first time. I could see the rep and actually recognized her name so I knew it was fine. But they just made me do it again, inside of two months, and I could not see the rep. I'm close to being Top Rated so it's kind of silly to keep bugging me when there are so many scammers and frauds roaming about that have been here for years that have never gotten caught. 

Go chase the bad guys. I'm not one of them.

 

Additionally, I was just about to complete a project when I got notice to verify. I did it right away because your account is placed on hold until you do so. So it is required if you want to keep working and get paid. 

 

I hope clients do not see that our account is on hold for this. 

 

 

 



 

I'm personally ok with doing video verification, I'm against an account suddenly being locked down, with the only method of reopening is something that could make someone uncomfortable for very real reasons, and none of those are immediately assuaged by Upwork in the inital contact / demand. Not to mention the downtime for technical issues, research and having questions answered. Your post is the first I've heard that Upwork is willing to work with folks which isn't communicated in the correspondance.

People have every right to be concerned about their privacy (ironically the very thing Upwork is trying to protect), which, frankly you and Cathrine *are* making light of. "Just don't use Upwork" isn't a solution and isn't sympathetic and is condescending. "You should just be comfortable with it" isn't a solution and isn't sympathetic. Asking for improvements should not be met with "there's the door". This is an easy fix on Upwork's end - they need to be transparent of their intentions and how information is stored, what is involved, and some leeway time in case folks aren't prepared right that moment. This is especially true for those that haven't used such a service before and also rely on it for part of their income.

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