Meta to introduce paid verification subscription service for Facebook and Instagram

Mark Zuckerberg says new $11.99 feature will be initially brought in for users in New Zealand and Australia

Meta is introducing a paid subscription service allowing users to verify their accounts. AFP
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Facebook and Instagram owner Meta will launch a paid subscription service starting at $11.99 a month allowing users to verify their accounts, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced on Sunday, after a similar move by Elon Musk at Twitter.

Meta Verified, which will be introduced first in Australia and New Zealand this week, will let users "verify your account with a government ID, get a blue badge, get 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," he wrote on his Facebook account.

There would be no changes to accounts on Facebook and Instagram that are already verified, the company said.

It said only users over the age of 18 will be allowed to subscribe. The service is not yet available to businesses.

Mr Musk's initial attempts to launch a similar service at Twitter last year backfired with an embarrassing series of fake accounts that scared advertisers and cast doubt on the site's future.

He was forced to briefly suspend it before relaunching it to muted reception in December.

Meta's announcement comes as the social media giant dealt with financial difficulties over the past year, announcing in November that it would lay off 11,000 employees or 13 per cent of its staff in the largest worker reduction in the company's history.

The layoffs are part of a wave of redundancies announced by Silicon Valley giants in recent months, as the once unassailable sector faces economic gloom.

Meta is also under pressure for making a huge gamble on the metaverse, the world of virtual reality that Mr Zuckerberg believes will be the next frontier online.

Investors last year punished Meta, sending the company's share price down by two thirds over 12 months, but the stock has recovered some of the ground in 2023.

Mr Zuckerberg has remained optimistic about Meta's future.

This month the company reported its first annual sales drop since it went public in 2012, but the fall was less than expected.

The company also recently announced that the number of daily users on Facebook hit two billion for the first time.

Updated: February 20, 2023, 4:22 AM