In typical capitalism hyperbole, Mark Zuckerberg responds to Elon Musk. The boss of Meta (Facebook, Instagram) announced on Sunday the launch of a paid subscription starting at $11.99 per month to authenticate his account on the platforms while the social networking giant is going through a difficult financial period. The formula, which will debut in Australia and New Zealand this week, is similar to that implemented on Twitter, with identity verification services and benefits like “direct access to customer service.”
“The idea is to improve the authenticity (of the profiles and therefore the exchanges) and the security of our services,” explained Mark Zuckerberg in a message sent to his Instagram channel and Facebook account. On Facebook and Instagram, followers have a badge that shows their identity has been verified, as well as protections for their account (including against impersonation), access to customer service, and increased visibility,” a spokesman for Meta said.
Content from creators who subscribe to Meta Verified is shared more widely and appears at the top of search results and recommendations. Subscription is reserved for individuals and professionals over the age of 18, it is not open to business accounts.
“It’s free and always will be”
The slogan of the social network, launched in 2004, has long been “It’s free and it always will be”. Facebook has thus established the dominant model of the large online platforms: users benefit from free services that collect personal information about them in order to address them with personalized advertising.
Celebrated by advertisers ranging from big brands to small businesses, Google and Meta have quickly become the dominant players in the industry, earning tens of billions of dollars each year. But in 2022, Meta saw its ad revenue fall for the first time since the California-based conglomerate went public in 2012. Facebook alone reached two billion daily active users on the platform.
But between inflation eating away at advertisers’ budgets and stiff competition from apps like TikTok, these users aren’t reporting as much to Meta as they used to. The company is also suffering badly from its neighbor Apple’s regulatory changes, which limit social networks’ ability to collect user data to sell targeted advertising space. These factors have already prompted other networks, from Reddit to Snapchat, to launch paid plans.