It seems that Meta’s ballooning Metaverse costs have forced it to consider new types of income, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg today announcing that Meta’s launching a test of a paid verification program, much like Twitter’s $8 verification scheme.
As per Meta:
“To help up-and-coming creators grow their presence and build community faster, we’ll begin testing a new offering called Meta Verified, a subscription bundle on Instagram and Facebook that includes a verified badge, which authenticates your account with government ID, proactive account protection, access to account support, and increased visibility and reach. We’re starting with a gradual test in Australia and New Zealand later this week to learn what’s most valuable, and we hope to bring Meta Verified to the rest of the world soon.”
Meta says that two of its most requested features are better access to verification and account support, while creators are always looking for more ways to increase their visibility. The new program will cater to all of these, and will initially be priced at $11.99 per month on the web, or $14.99 p/m on iOS and Android, with the latter covering the respective App Store fees.
Which seems flawed. Much like Twitter’s $8 verification plan, the value of the verification badge is that it’s only allocated to profiles that are deemed noteworthy, and as soon as anybody can buy one, that key value is immediately diminished. We can see this on Twitter now - a heap of random accounts now have a paid verification badge, which only makes them look desperate for recognition, as opposed to being somebody of note that may have a more insightful or knowledgeable opinion.
But then again, many people have criticized the way verification badges have been allocated in the past, and there is an argument to be made that confusion and misinterpretation around what verification actually means has led to a lot of random accounts being verified anyway.
And with Meta’s development costs still rising, and its ad business still recovering from the impact of Apple’s ATT update, Meta may need to broaden its horizons.
And when you also consider that Twitter Blue has around 300,000 subscribers, I guess that’s a handy extra chunk of cash that Meta could use - or even more significant, Snapchat revealed last week that its subscription service Snapchat+ now has 2.5 million paying members.
That aligns with another element of the Meta verified package:
“We’ll offer exclusive stickers on Facebook and Instagram Stories and Facebook Reels, and 100 free stars a month on Facebook so you can show your support for other creators.”
Snapchat+ offers subscribers a range of in-app customizations, which Meta is also looking to latch onto, while additionally encouraging the use of Stars creator donations.
Will that work?
Look, I can’t imagine a heap of people are going to be keen to fork out $144 a year for a verification badge, and history shows us that the take-up of any such offering will be low, with likely fewer than 1% of Meta’s users set to even to consider it.
But maybe that’s fine - maybe Meta knows that hardly anyone will take it up, but even a fraction of users paying extra will be worth the effort.
Again, much like Twitter Blue, it does seem to devalue the thing that it’s trying to sell, and Twitter Blue will never reach the levels that Twitter chief Elon Musk has envisioned for the paid scheme. But Elon will no doubt be very pleased that Zuck is following his lead, which adds more legitimacy to his verification plan, and the conceptual approach of pay-gating social platforms.
It seems flawed, but extra reach, and direct account support will likely be enough to win over at least a few thousand creators.
But there’s also a limit – how many people will be able to afford to pay for Twitter Blue, Meta Verified and Snapchat+.
Maybe, for creators, to whom their presence is their business, it’s a professional cost. But surely that’s only a small audience for these tools.