Search giant Google has unveiled a new mobile-only feature that could help solve the digital identity crisis experienced in many African states, by making people more discoverable on its search platform. 

Dubbed People Cards, the innovation will allow the more than 500 million internet users in the continent to create their presence on Google Search in the form of a digital profile card that includes all the details they want the world know about them. 

“Whether they’re content creators, business professionals, or users who just want to stand out from the crowd, having an online presence is imperative,” Olumide Balogun, head of consumer apps, Sub Saharan Africa at Google said.

There are 520 million netizens in Africa, with 60 per cent of them accessing the internet through their phones, but African governments have always struggled to execute a digital identity system that discourages online criminal activities as internet becomes more accessible and affordable across the continent. 

Mr Balogun noted that the new initiative seeks to help the continent leapfrog digital identity hurdles, especially for those without a formal address and those who share a name with many others.

 “This is an easy way to create or distinguish their presence on Search. This will organise information and make it more useful and accessible on smartphones.” 

Anyone with a Google account can create a People Card by simply searching for their name and tapping the “add me to Search” prompt. 

That will lead them through a simple process to add a photo, description, links to social profiles and other information that they’d like others to know about them. 

For the initial card creation, a unique phone number is required, and only one profile card is allowed per Google account and phone number. 

Additionally, people can report abusive content and impersonation claims through a feedback link directly from the platform. 

“We built this feature for the millions of influencers, content creators, entrepreneurs, self- employed individuals, freelancers, or anyone else out there who wants to be discovered,” Mr Balogun expounded. 

Google has recently introduced several locally relevant features within Search. Job Search Experience, for example, helps people find jobs through Search, while Health Symptom Search makes it easier for users to explore health conditions related to symptoms. 

Google has also introduced other features that make it easy to find information on everyday interests like Sports, Recipe, Movies and Lyrics. 

“A critical part of creating for Africa means building in line with the insights we are seeing from the region. We see that people in Africa want a search tool that reflects their real environment and also supports them to succeed as they go about their everyday activities.”

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