While many still have reservations about selling social platform verification, and the impact that could have in undermining the perceived value of the once-vaunted blue checkmark, Meta’s clearly deriving some benefit from such, as it’s now expanding its Meta Verified subscription package to all regions.
Originally launched back in February for Australian and New Zealand users, Meta has been steadily expanding access to the option, which gives paying users a verified blue checkmark on Facebook or Instagram, access to dedicated account support to streamline response, as well as other features, for $11.99 per month – or $14.99 per month when purchased via mobile apps (accounting for respective app store fees).
And soon, all users in all regions will be able to buy their own blue tick.
As per Meta:
“We’ve heard positive feedback from creators in our initial tests and continue to gather input about what’s most valuable for subscribers. We’ll continue to evolve Meta Verified based on these learnings and explore new features and benefits that create more value for subscribers.”
The program will be expanded to Latin American users this week, followed by full global availability in the coming months.
As noted, it’s still an odd fit, which dilutes the meaning of what the checkmark actually represents, as a measure of trustworthiness or notability within social apps.
Twitter was the first platform that began selling blue ticks instead of allocating them, as a means to combat bots and spam, with the idea being that if the majority of users were to pay for verification, that would make it untenable for bot operators to continue their schemes, as the only profiles not paying, and without a verification tick, would eventually clearly be bot accounts, as opposed to real humans who can afford a few dollars a month to confirm their identity.
The concept itself makes some sense. Verifying all the actual humans, one way or another, would help to weed out bad actors, but the problem with Twitter’s approach is that it’s using ‘payment verification’ as a means to confirm identity, which isn’t really a confirmation of anything, other than the fact that a user is willing to pay $8 for a checkmark in the app.
And most users have thus far been unwilling to pay. Despite incentivizing people with increased tweet reach, and stripping verification checkmarks from previously approved accounts, only around 0.3% of Twitter users have currently signed up to the scheme, which means that it’s unlikely to have the identity confirmation value that the Twitter 2.0 team had originally envisioned.
But it does add another revenue stream, when Twitter desperately needs it, while Meta too is facing tougher economic conditions, worsened by its continued metaverse investments, which means that it also needs more income, where possible, to offset its losses.
In this respect, I can understand the thinking behind selling checkmarks, but the broader impact will be declining trust in in-app symbols, which will make it harder to know which information is credible. And that could arguably lead to a bigger shift than the immediate revenue gains.
Which is also why I think LinkedIn’s latest approach to verification makes more sense, offering ID confirmation via third-party providers to confirm that you are, in fact, a real person with an official government ID that can be linked to your identity.
That’s not a subscription service, and it doesn’t act as a replacement for a previous verification system. But it will help to weed out bots and spam, without recurring fees, which essentially prioritizes users based on how much money they make, as opposed to who they are.
Regardless, Meta’s pushing ahead with its program anyway. And while Meta hasn’t gone to the extreme level of removing previously allocated checkmarks in its apps, the initiative will see more paid blue ticks appearing in your Facebook and IG feeds, which will make it harder to know who’s actually noteworthy, and who’s paying for attention in each app.
Does that matter? Maybe not, but maybe it is a bigger deal than some think, and the added credibility provided by paid verification will only exacerbate confusion and misunderstanding in each app.
We’ll only know for sure over time, as more people buy their way to social media status, and users become increasingly wary of what those blue ticks actually represent.