Facebook owner Meta will launch a paid membership service.

Facebook owner Meta will launch a paid membership service.

Los Angeles: CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed on Sunday that Meta, the company that owns Facebook and Instagram, will establish a premium subscription service with a starting price of $11.99 per month that will allow users to verify their accounts. Elon Musk had already made a similar move at Twitter.

Users will be able to verify a “account with a government ID, get a blue badge, get extra impersonation protection against accounts pretending to be you, and get direct access to customer support,” according to Zuckerberg. Meta Verified will launch this week, starting in Australia and New Zealand.

In a message uploaded to his Facebook account, he said, “This new feature is about boosting authenticity and security across our services.”

The company also stated that only those who are at least 18 years old would be allowed to subscribe, and that verified Facebook and Instagram profiles would remain the same. The service is not currently available to businesses.

In nations where users cannot afford to pay $12 a month or in cash-based economies where they may have fewer options for sending the money to Meta, Zuckerberg’s pricing plans for Meta Verified were not immediately evident.

Musk’s initial attempts to introduce a comparable service at rival social media network Twitter last year backfired horribly, scaring away advertisers and raising serious concerns about the site’s sustainability. He had to put the initiative on hold for a while before picking it back up in December to lukewarm reception.

Facebook played a key role in establishing the dominant business model of the internet’s largest platforms, which rewards users with “free” services that collect and sell their personal data to advertisers.

During the past 20 years, this approach has brought the corporation, along with other advertising powerhouses like Google, tens of billions of dollars annually.

Facebook’s main page has boldly proclaimed for years that the service is “free and always will be.” Yet the business gradually dropped the tagline in 2019. Experts at the time hypothesized that it was because the site was never truly “free” due of the value of the users’ personal data.

Since the California-based company’s IPO in 2012, Meta experienced a drop in ad income in 2022.

Facebook’s daily users recently surpassed two billion, according to the company, but due to inflation cutting into advertisers’ budgets and tough competition from applications like TikTok, those users aren’t generating as much cash as they once did.

Legislative modifications brought about by iPhone maker Apple, which restrict social networks’ ability to collect data and monetize advertising, have also proven detrimental to the company.

Similar reasons have previously prompted the development of premium subscriptions on other networks, including Reddit, Snapchat, and of course, Twitter.

Meanwhile, Meta is facing criticism for taking a big chance on the metaverse, a virtual reality environment that Zuckerberg thinks will be the online space’s next frontier.

Investors penalized Meta last year, pushing the stock down an astounding two thirds in just one year, but in 2023, the price has somewhat recovered.

In November, Meta announced 11,000 layoffs, or 13% of the workforce, marking the largest employment decline in the history of the company.