Facebook-parent Meta has launched a monthly subscription service, called Meta Verified, that will allow an individual to get the coveted blue check mark on Instagram and Facebook by verifying their identity, tapping a new revenue channel that has had mixed success for its smaller rival Twitter.
The subscription service, first rolling out in New Zealand and Australia starting this week, is priced at $11.99 per month on the web or $14.99 on Apple’s iOS. (The company didn’t say when it plans to make the service available for purchase through its Android apps.) Meta Verified will allow a user to verify their identify by using their government-issued ID card. The subscription service will also offer an improved impersonation protection and direct access to customer support, Meta said.
Meta co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post that Meta Verified “is about increasing authenticity and security across our services.” He said Meta Verified will launch in “more countries soon,” but did not elaborate. We’ve asked Meta some additional questions and will update the story when we hear back.
Sunday’s announcement comes months after Elon Musk revamped Twitter’s subscription service, Twitter Blue, to offer a range of additional features including the blue check mark. Twitter has expanded Twitter Blue to over a dozen markets in recent months including India and Indonesia.
Musk is betting on turning the subscription service into a major revenue driver for Twitter, which he acquired last year for $44 billion — $13 billion of which he borrowed from banks. Musk needs to pay more than $1 billion a year in interest payments.
The blue checkmark has long been one of the coveted features on social media platforms. Previously it was reserved for public figures such as lawmakers, actors, musicians, sports athletes and journalists. Musk has lambasted the idea, arguing that the feature should be open to all. He has said that those who attained the blue tick mark outside the Twitter Blue subscription will lose it eventually. Zuckerberg didn’t say whether Meta was planning to re-do its entire verified library not did he mention if the subscription service will be extended to businesses.
Meta, whose shares have rebounded in recent weeks, is also reeling from a harsh markets response to its grand metaverse vision. The company, which has laid off about 11,000 employees in the past two months, has pledged to cut down its spendings on the metaverse ambitions. It’s reportedly planning another layoff round, soon.
“The thing about religion is that it requires a leap of faith. Belief in something that you may not ever be able to conclusively prove. And there will be moments that will test that faith, moments that make you question everything you had previously accepted as fact. Dramatics aside, 2022 was a challenging year for believers in the House of Zuck with many pushed to the brink or throwing in the towel culminating in the capitulation we saw last quarter,” analysts at Bernstein wrote in a note this month.
“But it appears that Meta has found their own religion on efficiency/profitability and investors now find a leaner, sharper company before them.”