As the world gradually wakes up to the announcement of Meta's plan to expand its Verified subscription package globally, many are left pondering about the ramifications of commodifying social media verification. The once prestigious blue checkmark, representing trustworthiness and notability, now seems within anyone's grasp – for a price.
Meta first introduced the service in Australia and New Zealand, with a monthly cost of $11.99 or $14.99 when purchased via mobile apps. Subscribers receive not only the coveted blue tick on Facebook and Instagram but also enjoy dedicated account support and other unique features.
In their own words, "We've been encouraged by the positive feedback from creators during our initial tests. As we continue to gather valuable insights about what our subscribers cherish most, we'll use these learnings to refine and expand Meta Verified, unveiling new features and benefits that offer even more value."
The next target on Meta's expansion roadmap is Latin America, with other regions to follow in the coming months. But while the financial benefit of such an expansion seems clear, the move has sparked a heated debate on the true meaning and value of the blue checkmark.
Twitter was the first to trade blue ticks, aiming to combat bots and spam. The premise was simple: if most users paid for verification, it would become financially untenable for bots to operate, leaving only genuine, paying humans in the mix. However, this approach transformed the verification checkmark into a symbol of financial capacity, not necessarily authenticity. The result? A rather lukewarm reception with a mere 0.3% uptake.
Meta's decision also comes at a time when the tech giant is grappling with tough economic conditions and the financial burden of its metaverse investments. Selling blue ticks may offer a new revenue stream, but at the potential cost of eroding trust in in-app symbols, making it more challenging to discern credible information.
LinkedIn's latest verification strategy might offer a viable alternative, requiring ID confirmation through third-party providers, thereby ensuring the user is indeed a real person with a valid government ID. This approach has the potential to weed out bots and spam without recurring fees or prioritizing users based on their income.
Despite the mixed opinions, Meta pushes forward with its blue-tick-for-cash scheme. We're left to wait and see whether this will clarify or muddy the waters of social media credibility, potentially causing more confusion and misunderstanding in each app. The debate rages on as we look towards a future where social media status can be bought, not earned, leaving us to question what those blue ticks will truly represent.