Meta Platforms Inc. is following in the footsteps of its social networking competitors, such as Twitter Inc., by asking its users to pay for account verification, as a means of diversifying from ad revenue. The recently launched Meta Verified service for Facebook and Instagram will allow users to acquire a blue checkmark verifying their identity, similarly to public figures and celebrities, at a starting cost of $11.99 per month. The move may contribute an additional $2-3 billion to Meta’s annual sales, though the main benefit is likely to be retention of “creators,” who can pay for verification to protect their content and increase their visibility on the platform.
According to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Mandeep Singh, the move may enhance users’ visibility in areas such as search, comments, and recommendations. However, the impact on revenue will likely be minimal for the time being. Twitter CEO Elon Musk commented on his rival’s move via a tweet, stating that it was “inevitable.” Twitter’s own subscription service, Twitter Blue, has thus far only been adopted by less than 0.2% of its US monthly active users.
Meta will introduce the service this week for users in Australia and New Zealand, featuring a verification process that requires a government-issued ID. Along with a verification badge, the subscription will provide users with proactive account protection, account support, and increased visibility and reach, according to a Meta spokesperson. During its first version, some customers used the service to impersonate well-known accounts, including Musk’s, leading Twitter to reverse its initial rollout of the premium offering for several weeks.
The verification process for Meta will require users to submit their government-issued identification, and the service will be offered initially to users in Australia and New Zealand. Although the subscription cost is low, it is worth noting that it could still exclude certain users who cannot afford it, potentially creating a two-tiered system of verified and unverified users.
This move towards account verification is part of a larger trend in the social media industry, as platforms aim to improve user trust and reduce the spread of misinformation. However, it also presents a potential ethical dilemma, as verified users may be perceived as having more credibility or importance, leading to an uneven distribution of influence on the platform.
It remains to be seen how this move will affect Meta’s user base and revenue in the long term, but it is clear that the company is looking to diversify its revenue streams and keep pace with its competitors. As social media becomes an increasingly vital part of our lives, the need for greater transparency and accountability will only continue to grow.