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Facing revenue heat, Mark Zuckerberg launches ‘Meta Verified’

Subscribers to Meta Verified will be able to verify their account on Facebook and Instagram by providing an official ID and getting a blue badge

After Twitter Blue, now the Meta platform announces its verification features for Facebook and Instagram users, under which the latter will be able to affix a blue badge to their profiles as a “token of authenticity” while being able to boost their posts for free.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has already announced the details of the new subscription service in a Facebook post.

Subscribers to Meta Verified will be able to verify their account on Facebook and Instagram by providing an official ID and getting a blue badge. Also, their accounts will be protected against identity theft due to proactive monitoring. To sort out problems, these individuals will be able to contact Meta’s customer service teams directly.

On top of all these, posts, photos and videos from these accounts will have a higher profile than those of non-subscribers by appearing atop search results, commentaries and recommendations.

The new verification package, called ‘Meta Verified’, will be rolled out in Australia and New Zealand in February 2023 before arriving at other markets.

The new service will cost USD 11.99 a month for users signing up via the Internet and USD 14.99 for mobile app users. The higher price will reportedly offset commissions taken by tech giants Apple and Google on their smartphones.

The subscription, which will be voluntary in nature, will only be allowed to users who are above 18. However, these features will not be available for businesses initially and they will cater mainly to the content creators.

Meta would rely on government ID documents to prove the identity of verified accounts, as per media reports, to avoid the accounts getting impersonated, as happened when Twitter initially rolled out its paid verification service.

The increased visibility of posts from verified users would “depend on a subscriber’s existing audience size and the topic of their posts,” the company said.

Meta would also offer “exclusive stickers” on Facebook and Instagram stories and Facebook reels.

As per AFP, Meta conceived of the subscription idea after requests from content creators. The company is now taking a serious view of the decline in its user and revenue bases. In 2022, its ad revenue declined for the first time since it went public in 2012.

Meta’s move comes at a time when inflation is eating away at online advertisers’ budgets, along with the users having the option of diversifying their attention among various social media apps. Meta also has lost the option to harvest users’ data (for understanding business trends and users’ pulse) due to the regulatory scrutiny from the European watchdog.

“So the battle among platforms is becoming a bit of a battle for attracting and retaining the creators, because, at the end of the day, it’s the creators who have the content that keeps the eyeballs,” Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi said.

Not only Meta, Snapchat, Reddit and Discord are proposing their users cough up a few dollars a month for supplementary tools.

Twitter, bought by Tesla CEO Elon Musk in 2022, recently launched an account verification feature that costs USD 7 a month on the internet and USD 11 a month on an iPhone. Users having Twitter Blue’s coveted checkmark can promote their posts better, see much less advertising and can write longer tweets.

Carolina Milanesi said she thinks Meta wants to diversify its revenue sources.

After Twitter launched its subscription service, other social media groups thought “well, we might as well try,” she said.

“Justifying that from a creator perspective I think is more of a marketing pitch than of true value to creators,” she concluded.

Meta cut 11,000 staff in November 2022, an equivalent of 13% of its workforce. The company’s share price fell by more than 70% in 2022 before a rebound and in July, it reported its first-ever fall in revenue.

Elon Musk responded to the news in a tweet saying it was “inevitable” Meta would follow Twitter.

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