Facebook and Instagram users to pay $12 monthly for verification

CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Sunday that Facebook and Instagram owner Meta will launch a paid subscription service starting at $11.99 per month that will allow users to verify their accounts, following a similar move by Elon Musk at Twitter. 

Meta Verified, which will launch this week in Australia and New Zealand, will allow users to "verify your account with a government ID, get a blue badge, extra impersonation protection against accounts claiming to be you, and direct access to customer support," according to Zuckerberg. 

"This new feature is about increasing authenticity and security across our services," he wrote in a Facebook statement. 

The company said there would be no changes to verified accounts on Facebook and Instagram, and that only users over the age of 18 would be able to subscribe. Businesses are not yet able to use the service. 

Musk's first attempts to launch a similar service on rival social media network Twitter last year backfired spectacularly, resulting in an embarrassing slew of fake accounts that scared advertisers and cast doubt on the site's future. 

He was forced to temporarily halt the effort before resuming it to a lukewarm reception in December. 

Meta's announcement comes after the social media behemoth struggled financially over the past year, announcing in November that it would lay off 11,000 employees, or 13 percent of its workforce — the company's largest worker reduction in history. 

The layoffs are part of a wave of redundancies announced by Silicon Valley giants in recent months, as the once unassailable sector faces economic gloom. 

Meta is also under pressure for making a huge gamble on the metaverse, the world of virtual reality that Zuckerberg believes will be the next frontier online. 

Investors last year punished Meta, sending the company’s share price down by an astonishing two-thirds over 12 months, but the stock has recovered some of the ground in 2023. 
Zuckerberg has remained optimistic about Meta’s future. 

Earlier this month the company reported its first annual sales drop since it went public in 2012, but the fall was less brutal than expected. 

The company also recently announced that the number of daily users on Facebook hit two billion for the first time.

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