Instagram and Facebook launch Meta Verified: NPR

NPR’s Leila Fadel spoke with Tim Higgins, a reporter with the The Wall Street Journalabout new paid Twitter and Meta verification protocols.


It used to be free, but now Facebook and Instagram charge about $12 per month to verify.


Where have we heard this before? Meta’s verification service is, of course, the same as the one recently unveiled by Twitter, which is also changing its paid services to try to get more money to pay off Elon Musk’s debts. Starting next month, only users who pay a monthly fee will have access to certain account security features on Facebook and Instagram. Digital rights advocates say that could put some users at risk.

FADEL: To discuss this, we have Wall Street Journal reporter Tim Higgins with us. Good morning.

TIM HIGGINS: Good morning.

FADEL: So first, why did Meta and Twitter unveil these paid services?

HIGGINS: Well, these subscription services are about money. The digital ad market has suffered or struggled over the past year, and this is a way of trying to squeeze more money out of services. And what Elon Musk knows is this – there is potential value in verification, with a blue checkmark next to your name. And he is trying to sell it. And we see Facebook here as an attempt to follow that path and see if they can make money. Now, the question is, you know, how many people want to pay this money for this kind of blue check mark?

FADEL: But does this make people who don’t want to pay or don’t have money less safe to pay online on these platforms?

HIGGINS: Yeah, it’s interesting. The change we’ve seen over the past few days from Twitter has taken it a step further. Not just the blue checkmark, but they’ve added a feature to their subscription service where if you want to do two-factor authentication – that’s where through your cell phone, through text messaging, this is where you get one code to enter. when you try to log in…


HIGGINS: …On your account – now, you have to pay that. And that bothered some observers because it was a free service before, trying to make the system as secure as possible. Now, if you want to do text messaging authentication, you have to pay for it, although there are apps out there where you can do it for free. So the question is, will users easily change those apps? Some people worry that it will be too difficult.

FADEL: Now, only a small part of Twitter users have turned to the paid service so far, right? So how do these companies turn these services into solid revenue streams?

HIGGINS: Yeah, a little bit. So the question is – you look at Meta and Facebook as they try to chase this idea. It is hard to imagine in the near term that this will be a big business for them. One of the things, however – as it may help content creators, in part ’cause of verification, but also the company says it will increase their postings’ in places like search recommendations. And suddenly, we changed the paradigm for social media. In the past, it was all about creating cool content that went viral, and now you can almost pay to play to try to get your content up.

FADEL: Now, Meta seems to be following in Twitter’s footsteps, Musk’s bigger vision here. So what are the differences between what the two companies offer and what you pay for?

HIGGINS: Yes, with the announcement over the weekend from Meta, it’s about the blue checkmark, which is verified. It’s not about two-factor authentication, that code you send via text message. It’s all about the blue check mark and the ability to have more access to customer service and have your posts more prominent. For Twitter, it’s – and in addition to verification, it’s also about security authentication.

FADEL: That’s Wall Street Journal reporter Tim Higgins. Thank you very much.

HIGGINS: Thank you.


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