Meta’s new subscription service looks pretty familiar. For between $11.99 and $14.99 a month, Instagram and Facebook users will get a blue “verified” mark, access to better security features, and more visibility in search. Their comments will also be prioritized.
The package has strong echoes of Twitter’s Blue subscription service, launched under new owner Elon Musk, who has been aggressively trying to find ways to monetize his platform—most recently, by telling users they won’t be able to use text-based two-factor authentication unless they subscribe.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Meta Verified in a post to his Instagram channel on February 19, saying that the service, which will be rolled out first in Australia and New Zealand, “is about increasing authenticity and security across our services.”
Analysts say that while the move isn’t entirely out of character for Meta, it hints at a lack of innovation at the social media giant, which has laid off more than 11,000 workers since late last year and spent billions on its push into the metaverse, a technology with no clear business model.
“Meta has always had copying in their DNA—Instagram’s Reels is but one of a long list of prominent examples—so it’s no surprise that, seeing Twitter get away with offering basic functionality as a premium service, Zuckerberg is trying to do the same,” says Tama Leaver, professor of internet studies at Curtin University in Australia. “Meta’s move to copy Twitter’s subscription model shows a distinct lack of new ideas … Meta has shed staff and is hemorrhaging money in building a metaverse that no one seems all that interested in right now.”
While Meta has emphasized the security aspects of its subscription product, the fact that subscribers will get greater visibility on the company’s platforms marks a significant change for users.
Twitter’s attempts to make users pay for features, including more promotion by its algorithms, have been met with widespread criticism, and many have threatened to quit the platform, although there is no reliable data on how many people have followed through.
However, Snapchat and Discord have also both introduced paid subscription tiers to users without a similar level of outrage, suggesting that the dislike of Twitter Blue could be linked to Musk himself and broader concerns about the platform.
“Meta has seen Snapchat, Discord, and Twitter launch their own subscription plans, which gives power-users additional features or perks,” says social media analyst Matt Navarra, who first broke the news about the Meta change. The idea of paying for features that used to be free has started to become normalized, he says. “The risk there is reduced for them in terms of whether it will be a success.”
Regardless, Navarra admits he won’t be buying verified status from Meta. “I don’t think it’s worth it,” he says.
How much money Meta can raise through verification is unclear. Twitter has struggled to sell subscriptions to its Blue service, with The Information reporting that the platform has fewer than 300,000 subscribers worldwide—which would bring in less than 1 percent of the $3 billion Musk wants the company to make. The Meta family of apps, including Instagram, Facebook, and WhatApp, have nearly 10 times the number of monthly users that Twitter does.