Once upon a time, the blue verified ticks on social media used to be a status symbol. They also helped verify authentic celebrity, brand, or public figure accounts. A blue tick on platforms like Twitter or Instagram was a career or personal brand milestone. Everyone coveted them.
Now, it's all in the past tense or at least in the making of the past tense. Since everyone loved the blue ticks that a few enjoyed, tech companies have finally zeroed in on the cash cow (wonder why it took them so long).
After Twitter, Meta jumped onto the verified subscription bandwagon, like mice following The Pied Piper of Hamelin.
- Meta announced on Sunday, February 19, that it is going to test the new subscription model verification in Australia and New Zealand this week.
- For a price of $11.99 (Rs 992) on the web and $14.99 (Rs 1,240) on iOS and Android, users will get the blue tick next to their name along with a slew of other features. (Psst: Here's Elon Musk explaining why you need Twitter Blue, btw)
- Since this is a test, already verified users are not going to be affected or see any changes to their accounts.
- Unlike Twitter's bungled argument for verified subscription, Meta seems to have its head on the shoulder for once.
- Meta says it's to authenticate real users and prevent the impersonation of accounts.
- Since Meta plans to verify users for a fee using a government ID, it seems like they are in the right direction when it comes to preventing impersonation to some level.
- At least this way, there's unlikely to be a verified Jesus account on Instagram. And businesses can still sit worry-free because the verification model doesn't apply to businesses as of now.
- The subscription will also offer proactive monitoring for account impersonation.
Now, it's time to get into the WTF details (you'll know why WTF):
- Meta asks for a government ID when applying for verification. Paying to get verified will be no different. In other words, Meta is now urging users to pay and also give them personal data.
- With Meta, which loves intruding on people's privacy, government ID verification should ring a warning bell.
- Subscribers will also need to ensure the profile photo and name of their FB and IG accounts match that on their government ID.
- IG profile photos aren't a big deal, but it does kill creativity by making it necessary to have a face front clear photo of the face. I for one have the back of my head as my IG profile photo.
- So, your highly edited or avatar-ised profile photos, especially for FB where it matters, won't work with the subscription model.
- Also, forget about being creative in your account handle once you have that blue tick.
- Once users get the verified badge by paying, they won't be able to change the profile name, username, date of birth, or photo, not without going through the Meta Verified subscription process again.
The verified blue tick as we once knew it:
- For long, the blue verified tick has been imprinted in our minds as the badge of authenticity, uniqueness and public figure profile.
- Now, tech companies who made the blue ticks are redefining them, and users need to understand the new meanings too.
- But that is not to say the blue tick existed without controversy. Twitter, Instagram and everyone else who offered these ticks had an opaque process and criteria for giving them to users (with Instagram being particularly notorious for turning down verification requests -- oh, and they did not offer an explanation either on why you did not meet their criteria).
- On Twitter for the longest time, blue ticks were acquired through back-door negotiations or at the discretion of the blue bird operators.
- Instagram was just as opaque in its verification process.
- Moreover, a ProPublica investigation had unearthed a multi-million dollar social media verification scheme which included Instagram for fake figures looking for clout.
What will pay-to-verify mean for creators?
Twitter and Meta both promise greater reach and push to accounts that are subscribed to the verification model. This leaves creators without the ability to pay a steep subscription per month at a disadvantage.
So, how will you be looking at verified accounts on social media from now on?