Sydney: Facebook and Instagram began a week-long rollout of their first paid verification service on Friday, testing users’ willingness to pay for social media features that were previously free.
Faced with declining ad revenue, parent company Meta is managing a subscription in Australia and New Zealand before launching in larger markets. The service costs $11.99 on the web and $14.99 on iOS and Android mobile platforms.
According to the company, Down Under subscribers who provide government-issued ID can begin requesting verified badges starting Friday, which provide protection against impersonation, instant access to customer support, and increased visibility.
“We are gradually rolling out access to Meta Verified on Facebook and Instagram and expect to reach 100 percent availability within the first 7 days of the rollout,” a Meta spokesperson told AFP.
Meta owned by Facebook to roll out paid subscriptions
Some attempts to join Meta Verified from Sydney found the service unavailable on the first day of rollout.
“This new feature is all about increasing the authenticity and security of our services,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a statement on Facebook and Instagram.
Importantly, the move also provides a way for Meta to generate more revenue from its two billion users.
According to experts, the growing army of creators, influencers and pseudonymous personalities who make their living online could be obvious users of verification.
Many of them complain that technical and administrative problems are sometimes difficult to solve, leading to delays and loss of revenue.
Jonathan Hutchinson, a lecturer in online communications at the University of Sydney, said some sort of “VIP service” “could be quite a valuable proposition for a content creator”.
But before launch, regular users weren’t willing to spend money on a company that already makes huge sums of money from its data.
“I think most of my friends would laugh about it,” says Ainsley Jade, a 35-year-old social media user based in Sydney.
She sees a trend towards more casual use of social media and away from a time where you “put your whole life into it”.
“I think people are moving away from that… but they definitely won’t pay for it – absolutely not!
Some commenters have wondered why Facebook and Instagram would adopt a verification subscription strategy that rival Twitter tried a few weeks ago — with less than stellar results.
But Hutchinson said Meta has often shown a willingness to try new, and sometimes risky, models, throwing out what doesn’t work.
He sees this latest gamble as part of a broader effort to make users pay for social media.
“I think it’s part of a strategy to move towards a model that isn’t free, where more and more services and functionality will be a paid or subscription service,” he told AFP.
“I think in the long run the functionality that we have – joining groups, selling things on the ‘Marketplace’ – all these add-ons that have appeared on Facebook over the years will eventually become subscription-based services .”