Tuesday 21 February 2023

Facebook and Instagram testing paid subscription service similar to Twitter's

 Facebook and Instagram are testing a Twitter Blue-esque subscription service called Meta Verified, parent company Meta's Mark Zuckerberg announced Sunday.

"This week, we're starting to roll out Meta Verified -- a subscription service that lets you verify your account ... this new feature is about increasing authenticity and security across our services," Meta's CEO said via his freshly launched Instagram broadcast "Meta Channel," accessible on mobile devices.

For $11.99 a month on the web or $14.99 a month on iOS and Android apps, purchasers will enjoy a badge, impersonation protection, access to a "real person" for help with account issues, increased visibility and reach, and yet-to-be-specified "exclusive features to express yourself in unique ways," according to Meta's press release on the new product.

Meta Verified will be available to users in Australia and New Zealand later this week, the release also said.

Meta Verified comes with multiple strings attached. To be eligible, users must be at least 18 years old and present a government ID that matches the profile name and photo of their Facebook or Instagram accounts. Accounts also must meet a minimum activity requirement such as posting history. 

Meta may have learned from one of Twitter's mistakes. Meta's subscription service includes "proactive monitoring for account impersonation." When Twitter first launched its subscription service, the site was flooded with posts from fake accounts impersonating Musk and other notable figures, NPR explained.

Once users take the plunge with Meta Verified, they will be locked in to the profile name, username, date of birth, and photo they chose during verification. Users who want to freshen their profile pictures would have to go through the verification process over again, Engadget noted.

Businesses are not eligible to apply for Meta Verified.

Meta may have been mulling the paid service for quite some time. In 2018, Mark Zuckerberg hinted at the potential for a paid version of Facebook in congressional testimony before a joint hearing of the U.S. Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees.

"Yes, there will always be a version of Facebook that is free," Zuckerberg testified at the time.

Elon Musk, owner of social media rival Twitter, wasted no time in poking fun at Meta's move to rake in some revenue. Musk launched a similar paid service called Twitter Blue last December. He replied with a laughing face emoji to a meme depicting character Mr. Bean, as Zuckerberg, copying off Musk's paper.

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