Australia and New Zealand will soon be able to pay to use Facebook and Instagram.
SYDNEY: On Friday, Facebook and Instagram started rolling out their first paid verification service. This is a test to see if people are willing to pay for social media features that have been free up until now.
Faced with a drop in advertising income, Meta’s parent company is testing a subscription service in Australia and New Zealand before bringing it to bigger markets. On the web, the service will cost US$11.99, and on iOS and Android mobile platforms, it will cost US$14.99.
From Friday, subscribers in Australia who have government-issued IDs can start applying for a verified badge, which the company says will protect them from impersonation, give them direct access to customer service, and make them more visible.
“We’ll be rolling out Meta Verified on Facebook and Instagram slowly, and we expect to have it available to everyone within the first week,” a spokesperson for Meta told AFP.
Some people in Sydney who tried to join Meta Verified on the first day it was available found that the service was not available.
In a statement posted on Facebook and Instagram, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, “This new feature is all about making our services more real and safe.”
The move is also important because it gives Meta a way to get more money from its two billion users.
Experts say that verification could be very useful for the growing number of creators, influencers, and “fake celebrities” who make their living online.
Many of them complain that it’s hard to fix technical and administrative problems, which can cause delays and cause them to lose money.
“Strategy that burns slowly”
Jonathon Hutchinson, who teaches online communication at the University of Sydney, said that a “VIP service” could be “quite a valuable proposition for a content creator.”
But before the launch, regular users didn’t seem too excited about giving money to a company that already made a lot of money off of their data.
Ainsley Jade, a social media user in Sydney who is 35 years old, said, “I think most of my friends would laugh at it.”
She thinks that people are using social media less seriously and moving away from the days when they “put their whole lives on there.”
“I think people are kind of moving away from that, but I would never, ever, ever pay for it.
Some people don’t understand why Facebook and Instagram would use a verification-subscription strategy that their competitor Twitter tried just a few weeks ago, but didn’t work out so well.
Hutchinson, on the other hand, said that Meta has often shown a willingness to try new, and sometimes risky, models and then give up on the ones that don’t work.
He thinks that this latest move is part of a larger plan to get people to pay for social media.
“I think it’s part of a long-term plan to move towards a paid model,” he told AFP. “More and more services and features will be paid or subscription-based.”
“I think that in the long run, all of the extra features that have been added to Facebook over the years, like joining groups and selling things on “Marketplace,” will become paid services.