You've got to love the tech titans. For most of us, watching Elon Musk destroy Twitter is a horror story. For Mark Zuckerberg, it's something to aspire to. As we reported earlier today, Meta intends to bring in Twitter Blue-style paid verification to Facebook and Instagram for around £10 per month and more on iOS devices such as iPhones.
If you're fortunate enough not to know what Twitter Blue is, it's a replacement for the verification system that used to indicate someone was who they claimed to be. Now it indicates that someone has paid for Twitter Blue. The rest of the package depends on Elon Musk's whims but variously promises to make you appear higher in search results and replies and to give you better video upload options. It's become such an indicator of bad-faith users that people have created blocklists specifically to mute Twitter Blue subscribers.
Musk's Twitter Blue is a terrible idea implemented terribly, so of course Zuck wants to copy it.
Why does Meta want you to pay for verification?
Zuck wants you to pay up because big tech is losing money. So after years of making it increasingly hard for your followers to see any of your posts unless you pay to promote them, Meta now appears to be demanding cash just for Facebook to work properly in the first place.
The new scheme will enable you to prove who you are by uploading government ID (something largely unnecessary with Facebook's real-name policy), direct access to customer support, and "extra impersonation protection".
Does it give you an ad-free experience? It does not. Does it stop Facebook and Insta mining your personal data so people can sell you things? It doesn't do that either. Will it make your feed show you more of the things you want to see and less promoted content it thinks you want to see instead? That's a big old nope too.
If anything, it's going to make the problem of unwanted content worse. What it seems likely to do is the same as Twitter Blue does: enable people to give their posts and comments undue prominence if they're willing to pay.
I'm a long time user of Meta's services and Twitter too, and the latter has become almost unusable since Twitter Blue was given priority. I no longer get notifications of replies and likes, I don't see most of the content I want to see, and my For You tab is basically a firehose of the worst people on the internet designed to make me angry and hate-click. I gave up on trying to promote anything on Facebook years ago when despite having hundreds of followers, if I didn't pay to boost posts nobody would ever see them.
So I'm migrating away to Mastodon instead, and I suspect if Facebook starts actively making the core FB experience worse for non-verified users many people will start to do the same there.
According to Meta, "we want to build a subscription offering that’s valuable to everyone, including creators, businesses and our community at large." But not, it seems, the average service user.