In a move that has been compared to Twitter’s verified account program, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the social media giant will begin selling blue badges on both Instagram and Facebook. The ‘Meta Verified’ program intends to verify the authenticity of accounts belonging to public figures, celebrities, and brands, and is a way for users to know that they are not interacting with an imposter.
The blue badge program on Facebook has been in place since 2009 and, until now, blue badges were only available by application, requiring users to provide proof of identity and to meet specific criteria. However, with the new program, any user can purchase a blue badge for a fee, without following the application process.
The move by Facebook is reminiscent of Twitter’s verified account program, which has been in place since 2009. Like Facebook, Twitter’s program is intended to verify account authenticity of public figures, celebrities, and brands. However, it also aims to protect users from impersonation attempts.
In recent years, Twitter’s verified account program has come under scrutiny for being too exclusive and difficult to obtain. Facebook’s decision may be seen as a move to make the program more accessible to users. Meta Verified will cost $11.99 (£9.96) a month on web, or $14.99 (£12.54) for iPhone users, but is not yet available in the UK. However, there are concerns that the new program could lead to an increase in fake accounts and impersonation attempts. With blue badges available for purchase, scammers may create fake accounts and purchase badges to appear legitimate.
Facebook and Twitter have been competing for users and ad revenue for years, and it’s no secret that Zuckerberg sees Musk as a major threat. Musk’s Twitter account has become a platform for him to make major company announcements which often garner significant media coverage.
The move by Facebook to sell blue badges may also be seen as additional revenue generation for the company. In recent years, Facebook has faced criticism for its handling of user data and privacy concerns, and the company has been exploring new ways to make money outside of traditional advertising. The blue badge program may be seen to monetise the status symbols associated with being a public figure or a brand with a large following.
This may pose an issue for paid media professionals, especially for those who use paid influencer marketing, as it could devalue blue badges as a signal of credibility. Thus, they may need to find new ways to verify the authenticity of accounts. In addition, the new program may lead to an increase in fake accounts and impersonation attempts, which could make it more difficult for paid media professionals to identify the genuine.
However, it’s important to note that blue badges are not the only way for businesses and influencers to gain credibility on social media platforms. There are a variety of other signals that can be used to indicate authenticity, such as engagement rates, follower growth, and partnerships with other credible brands or individuals.