Meta will let people pay for ‘blue badge’ on Instagram and Facebook

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Meta will let users pay for the “blue badge” or checkmark next to their name on Instagram and Facebook.

The company has long offered the mark as a way of indicating that certain accounts are verified as belonging to who they claim. But it has also become something of a status symbol, since large and important accounts tend to get those verified marks first.

Now people will be able to pay for that same checkmark, Mark Zuckerberg has announced, with an offering called ‘Meta Verified’. Users will verify their identity using a government ID, and get access to the badge.

Users will also get a range of other bonuses, including “extra impersonation protection against accounts claiming to be you, and get direct access to customer support”, Mr Zuckerberg said. “This new feature is about increasing authenticity and security across our services.”

It will begin rolling out in New Zealand and Australia this week, Mr Zuckerberg said. It will come to “more countries soon”, though he gave no indication of a timeline.

It will cost $11.99 when bought on the web, or $14.99 a month on iOS and Android. That is to account for the cut that Google and Apple take from payments made on their operating systems – themselves a major point of contention between platform owners and companies including Meta.

The feature follows Twitter, which runs a subscription service called Twitter Blue. In the time since new owner Elon Musk took over as chief executive, he has increased the price and given everyone who pays access to the same blue check that once indicated a verified account.

That initially caused a run of issues for the company, as users bought subscriptions and posed as other users. Twitter has since changed the colour of the official checkmarks, in an attempt to bring such impersonation under control.

Other social media platforms such as Snapchat and Telegram have launched their own premium offerings over the last year.

As with Meta, the moves appear to be an attempt to offset falling advertising revenues. A range of changes have made it harder for companies to track their users, in turn allowing them to charge less for marketing.

Meta has attacked some of those changes – such as Apple’s App Tracking Transparency, which allows users to stop apps such as Facebook tracking users around the internet – and has said that they are responsible for vast amounts of lost earnings.