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Want a blue check on Instagram? That'll be $12
Meta wants to start charging for verification on Facebook and Instagram, taking a chapter out of Elon Musk's Twitter Blue playbook.
One of the biggest changes to come to Twitter under Elon Musk’s regime is the revamped version of Twitter Blue. Instead of paying a few bucks a month for some additional features, the service will now give you a coveted blue checkmark next to your name to verify that you, in fact, are a real person. Musk set out to dismantle certain clout and superiority one would get if given a blue checkmark using the previous verification system, and he certainly did boil it down to not meaning much beyond you pay a minimum of $8 a month to the company.
As it turns out, Twitter’s new verification system seems to be catching on, and a similar version is coming to Instagram and Facebook.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in a post to his Instagram broadcast channel that “Meta Verified” will begin rolling out next week. It’s a new service priced at $11.99 per month that will verify your accounts across Meta’s network of products - including on Facebook and Instagram - using a government-issued ID. You’ll then be presented with a blue checkmark next to your name, just like public figures and celebrities.
The way the feature works is similar to Twitter Blue, with a few exceptions. You subscribe either through the web or on your phone (which’ll cost $14.99 per month to offset developer fees in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store), provide photos of your ID, and wait to get your checkmark. You’ll need to be at least 18 years old to be verified, and you’ll also have to be pretty active on Facebook and Instagram. This positions the feature more for those who might consider themselves influencers. Right now, it doesn’t look like you’ll have to meet any sort of follower count or engagement thresholds.
Like Twitter Blue, once you’re verified, you won’t be able to change your profile picture, username, display name, or birthday without going through the verification process again. In addition, Meta Verified will include one bonus feature: 100 free “stars” every month, which you can give out to your favorite creators on each platform.
What you won’t be able to do with the feature is get a verification badge for your business. Meta isn’t letting that happen, at least not yet.
They’re also not removing anyone’s existing blue check. If you’re a public figure and have been previously verified on Facebook or Instagram, your check will remain the way it was after Meta Verified launches. That’s the polar opposite of what Twitter Blue did; Musk wants every user to pay for Blue, so he’s taking away all checks (besides verified businesses and government agencies) and forcing those users to pay up.
Why Meta Verified exists
Musk’s main goal with Twitter Blue verification was to make each genuine user seem as authentic as those verified, but he also found that it would increase authenticity on the platform and eliminate a great number of bots. That seems to be Zuckerberg’s approach with Meta Verified; in his announcement, he said that the feature will “[increase] authenticity and security across our services.”
But it’s clear that the program was also created to provide another revenue stream for the social media-first company. Advertising has been a hot button issue for platforms for years, since they basically survive on how many ads they’re able to sell. (Facebook’s ads business, for example, was responsible for around 97.5% of all revenue it collected in 2022).
And when Apple and Google started giving users control over how closely ads targeted them across the web, social media sites began to sweat. Facebook was notably upset about it, even going so far as to take out full-page ads in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal once it was released. It’s estimated that about $10 billion of advertising revenue across the web was lost due to the feature, which has led to companies exploring other sources of revenue they could depend on long-term.
Hence, we’ve arrived at straight-up paid versions of the platforms that were once believed to be free for eternity (or so it seemed). Twitter wants your money for a few extra features and a blue check, while Facebook and Instagram will take you money in the name of security and give you a verified badge.
When does it start rolling out?
Meta Verified is launching this week in New Zealand and Australia. Other countries will get the feature “soon,” so there’s no direct word on when those in North America will get to take advantage of it.
“Yeah, I don’t know man, what do you want from them?”
That’s the thought that kept rolling through my mind when I was reading people’s reactions to Zuckerberg’s announcement. Do any of us want to pay for social media? No, but we also want to stop companies from tracking us online and using our data to target ads. We’ve seen that social media platforms can’t sustain themselves with those security tools in place, so they’re left to charge for premium versions of themselves.
Honestly, as long as there’s always a free version of these platforms, I don’t see a reason to get upset. Just don’t subscribe? I mean, how many people actually need a blue checkmark next to their name anyway? Here’s a better one: how many people actually care? It’s always been a much more coveted feature on Twitter than any other platform, so I can’t imagine a bunch of people clambering to Meta Verified to get a badge just because they want the social status of having one.
Before you ask, yes, I’ll be subscribing, mainly because I’m a tech journalist and I wanna know what the feature’s like. But I certainly won’t enjoy paying Meta (of all companies) $12 a month for that privilege.
Between that and Twitter Blue, I’ll be paying $20 a month just to say I’m a real person on the internet. Welcome to the 2020s, I guess.