Meta follows Twitter down the blue check rabbit hole

Facebook parent Meta wants a piece of the premium social-networking action.

Nick Wood

February 20, 2023

3 Min Read
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Facebook parent Meta wants a piece of the premium social-networking action.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post on Sunday that his company plans to roll out ‘Meta Verified’, a service that will let Facebook and Instagram users verify the ownership of their account with a government-issued ID. It also promises to offer better protection against impersonators, and offer direct access to customer support. The monthly fee is $11.99 for Web users, and $14.99 for iOS and Android users.

Most importantly, users will get a badge alongside their profile, so that all their friends and family know they are paying for the privilege of sharing all their personal data with advertisers and political strategists. Zuck didn’t quite put it like that. He said Meta Verified “is about increasing authenticity and security across our services.”

In a separate statement, Meta said it will test Meta Verified in Australia and New Zealand later this week with a view to rolling it out to the rest of the world “soon.”

In addition to all the perks Zuckerberg mentioned, subscribers will also feature more prominently in search results, comment threads and recommendations. They will also get exclusive features that enable them to, as Meta puts it, “express yourself in unique ways.”

Without wishing to cast aspersions, anyone who feels the need to pay a monthly fee to billionaire Mark Zuckerberg – a man famed to a certain extent for not being particularly expressive – to help them express themselves should probably give up on trying to be interesting on the Internet.

Meta clearly disagrees with that assertion, insisting Meta Verified is particularly suited to helping budding creators establish and grow their presence. “Some of the top requests we get from creators are for broader access to verification and account support, in addition to more features to increase visibility and reach,” Meta said. “Since last year, we’ve been thinking about how to unlock access to these features through a paid offering.”

On the one hand, you can look at what Twitter CEO Elon Musk did when he put Twitter’s blue check mark behind a paywall and see Meta Verified as the competition simply trying to get a piece of that pie. On the other hand, in the context of Meta’s recent trials and tribulations, there is the faint whiff of desperation that comes with this decision.

Meta’s bet on the metaverse is at considerable risk of not paying off. An FT report last week about the dwindling enthusiasm for the concept reads like the metaverse has already been consigned to the dustbin of history. That’s probably premature, but in the year-and-a-bit since Facebook rebranded to Meta, it has burned through billions of dollars on its metaverse project with little to show for it.

Adding to the misery, Meta’s ad revenue is suffering due to the broader slowdown in digital spending. It is also having to adjust to Apple’s App Tracking Transparency, which lets iOS users opt out of letting Facebook monitor behaviour across other apps and services, hurting the value of the data that Meta can serve up to advertisers.

Meta’s value has plunged since the rebrand and by extension so has Zuckerberg’s personal wealth.

But all is not lost, because for as little as $11.99 per month, Facebook and Instagram users can help Zuckerberg and Meta continue with their work towards turning the Internet into the world’s dullest online multiplayer game. In return you will receive a badge, a better search ranking, some gimmicks to help you express yourself, and the knowledge that you are paying in money as well as data to help a billionaire shore up his revenues. Act now, before Meta has to announce another pivot.


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About the Author(s)

Nick Wood

Nick is a freelancer who has covered the global telecoms industry for more than 15 years. Areas of expertise include operator strategies; M&As; and emerging technologies, among others. As a freelancer, Nick has contributed news and features for many well-known industry publications. Before that, he wrote daily news and regular features as deputy editor of Total Telecom. He has a first-class honours degree in journalism from the University of Westminster.

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