Meta launches paid subscriptions – no guarantee content creators will be better off (on the contrary)

Meta launches paid subscriptions - no guarantee content creators will be better off (on the contrary)
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Meta, led by Mark Zuckerberg, is set to introduce a new offering called Meta Verified, which is a subscription package available on Facebook and Instagram. This bundle includes a verified badge that confirms the authenticity of your account, proactive account protection, access to account support, and greater visibility and reach. The company will initially test this service in Australia and New Zealand before potentially launching it worldwide.

By subscribing to Meta Verified, users can benefit from the following features:

  • A verified badge that confirms their identity and account authentication via a government ID
  • Proactive account monitoring to protect against impersonation and potential threats from those targeting accounts with a growing online audience
  • Access to real support from a person for common account issues
  • Increased visibility and reach in certain areas of the platform, including search, comments, and recommendations
  • Exclusive features to express oneself in unique ways.

Stars and free stickers for 180 dollars per year…

The increased visibility ‘feature’ comes after years of purposely blocking off organic reach. Yes, organic reach on Facebook has decreased over the years. In the early days of Facebook, businesses and individuals were able to reach a significant portion of their audience without spending money on advertising. However, as the platform has grown and evolved, Facebook has made changes to its algorithm that have resulted in a decrease in organic reach. This means that it has become more difficult for businesses and individuals to reach their target audience without paying for advertising. Facebook has stated that the reason for this decrease in organic reach is due to the large amount of content being produced and the limited space in users’ newsfeeds. Very convenient as it was Facebook in the first place who has encouraged users to follow more and more accounts over the years… Ultimately individual accounts or pages have an increasingly growing problem to reach their target audience organically.

And about that last extra, namely ‘Exclusive features’, we found out that this will be – you wouldn’t even suggest it yourself – exclusive stickers on Facebook and Instagram Stories and Facebook Reels, and 100 free stars a month on Facebook “so you can show your support for other creators”. We were kinda baffled after reading this on Meta’s official blogpost.

Meta Verified is available for direct purchase on Instagram or Facebook in Australia and New Zealand. People can purchase a monthly subscription for (USD) $11.99 on the web and (USD) $14.99 on iOS and Android.

To be eligible, accounts must meet minimum activity requirements, such as prior posting history, and be at least 18 years old. Applicants are then required to submit a government ID that matches the profile name and photo of the Facebook or Instagram account they’re applying for. Subscriptions will include proactive monitoring for account impersonation.

In the small letters on Facebook’s post about this new paying feature they do say that “increased visibility may vary depending on a subscriber’s existing audience size and the topic of their posts (…) subscribers with a smaller following may see a more noticeable impact to their reach since their audiences are smaller.” In short, if you have already a large following, don’t really bother.

Fake accounts make millions of net profit for Meta per month

Businesses are not eligible to apply for Meta Verified at this time and will probably never will be eligible since Meta makes too much money from its advertising model.

This new venture is clearly done to milk the users instead and its part of a wider trend in the tech industry of companies exploring new revenue streams beyond advertising. This first launch in Australia and New Zealand is only about testing the willingness of its users to pay for features that were previously free, such as the ability to have a verified account and increased visibility of posts.

The potential downside of this new revenue streams is kinda huge: the company’s focus on paid subscriptions could lead to a decline in the quality of the user experience, as free features are de-prioritized. It will also create a two-tiered system where those who can afford to pay are more visible and trusted than those who cannot. It remains to be seen how these experiments with paid subscriptions will play out in the long run, and whether they will ultimately benefit users or harm them.

Meta could have chosen to address the problem of fake accounts by verifying every account, rather than attaching a revenue model to the process. But surprise surprise, Facebook literally earned million in advertising revenue from accounts that were later removed because they had engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” These are accounts that deliberately pretend to be someone else to influence public debate. Facebook kept that money in its own pocket even after removing the accounts.

And now they are after your money while they sell your data over and over again to the biggest bidder.

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