Meta rolls out Facebook and Instagram subscription program

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Would you pay $24.99 a month to verify your Facebook and Instagram page? Well, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg hopes you might.

The social media exec has announced Meta Verified, a subscription bundle service to help users “get extra impersonation protection against accounts claiming to be you.”

The subscription includes a verified badge that authenticates Facebook and Instagram accounts with government ID, 'proactive' account protection, access to account support, and increased visibility and reach - and the cost? $19.99 AUD on web, or $24.99 on iOS and Android, per month. 

The new service is set to be rolled out in Australia and New Zealand starting this week, with plans to offer the service in other countries soon.

As expected, reactions to Zuckerberg's post on Facebook were decidedly mixed, with more than 380,000 users reacting to the announcement with the usual mix of scorn, approval and humour.

According to the Meta blog, the new service will offer better protection against impersonators who might target people with growing online audiences, such as influencers and celebrities.

Similar to Twitter's paid for service Twitter Blue, the Meta Verified service will also offer subscribers better account support, while also promising to offer more features to increase visibility and reach. For some users, access to prioritised support is likely to be reason enough to subscribe.

In addition, subscribers will also have access to “exclusive features” like stickers to help their posts stand out even more from basic accounts.

For now, accounts that have already been verified will not be impacted by the new service, but that could change, according to Meta’s product testing, and likely, the uptake of Meta Verified.

“Long term, we want to build a subscription offering that’s valuable to everyone, including creators, businesses, and our community at large,” Meta’s blog said.

“As part of this vision, we are evolving the meaning of the verified badge so we can expand access to verification and more people can trust the accounts they interact with are authentic.”

Interestingly, Facebook already requires users to verify their identity by sharing a government ID or “IDs from non-government organisations, official certificates, or licenses that include your name or other physical items like a magazine subscription or a piece of mail.”

However, this requirement has done little to stem concerns and issues around account hijacking and fraud on the platform. 

Currently, businesses are not eligible for Meta Verified, and Meta Verified only supports users who post under their real names, although a Meta spokesperson told tech website Ars Technica that businesses will eventually be able to be verified too.

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