Facebook and Instagram have started testing their first paid verification service in Australia and New Zealand. The new service, called “Meta Verified,” offers users direct access to customer support, protection against impersonation, and increased visibility for verified accounts. The verification process requires users to provide government-issued IDs. The service costs US$11.99 on the web and US$14.99 on the iOS and Android mobile platforms.
The move is seen as a way for parent company Meta to offset the drop in advertising revenues. The company is piloting the subscription model in smaller markets before rolling it out globally. Meta hopes that the new service will attract creators, influencers, and pseudo-celebrities who make a living online. However, some experts are skeptical about whether users will be willing to pay for features that were previously free.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the new feature is about increasing authenticity and security across Facebook and Instagram. He also highlighted the potential revenue stream that Meta Verified could generate. The new service provides Meta with a way of mining more revenue from its two billion users, particularly as the company faces increased scrutiny over data privacy and user safety.
According to Jonathon Hutchinson, a lecturer in online communication at the University of Sydney, a VIP service like Meta Verified could be quite valuable for content creators. He believes that the move is part of a broader effort to condition users to pay for social media. “Over the long-term, the functionality that we have now — joining groups, selling things on ‘Marketplace’— all of these add-ons that have emerged on Facebook over the years will eventually become subscription-based services,” he said.
Some commentators have expressed surprise at Facebook and Instagram’s decision to adopt a verification-subscription strategy, which Twitter tried a few weeks ago with less than stellar results. However, Hutchinson believes that Meta has often shown a willingness to try new and sometimes risky models, only to drop what does not work.
Despite the potential benefits of Meta Verified, ordinary users seem less than keen to hand over money to a company that already makes vast sums from their data. Ainsley Jade, a 35-year-old social media user in Sydney, said that she would not pay for the new service, and many of her friends would laugh at it. She believes that people are moving away from putting their whole life on social media and towards more casual use.
In conclusion, Facebook and Instagram’s decision to introduce a paid verification service is a significant move that could generate new revenue streams for Meta. The company hopes to attract creators, influencers, and pseudo-celebrities who make a living online. However, it remains to be seen whether ordinary users will be willing to pay for features that were previously free. As the social media landscape continues to evolve, it is likely that we will see more companies experimenting with new and innovative revenue models.