Facebook and Instagram began a weeklong rollout of their first paid subscription service on Friday, testing users’ willingness to pay for previously free features on social media.
Parent company Meta is testing the subscription in Australia and New Zealand before rolling it out in larger markets as ad revenue declines. It costs 11.99 dollars (11.30 euros) per month for users who subscribe on the web and 14.99 dollars for those who use the mobile apps.
From Friday, Australian subscribers who provide a government-issued ID will be able to apply for a blue authentication badge that provides protection against identity theft, direct access to customer service and more, the company said.
“We will gradually roll out Meta verified access on Facebook and Instagram and expect to have 100% availability within the first seven days,” a Meta spokesperson told AFP.
“This new feature is intended to strengthen the reliability and security of our services,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a statement posted on Facebook and Instagram.
Crucially, the move also gives Meta a way to generate more revenue from its two billion users.
Experts say the growing army of creators and influencers who make a living online could be the first customer base for its paid services.
Many of them complain about the difficulty in solving technical and administrative problems, which leads to delays and loss of income.
Jonathan Hutchinson, a senior lecturer in online communications at the University of Sydney, noted that some form of “VIP service” would be “a very attractive proposition for a content creator”.
Meta often likes to test new, sometimes risky models, then abandon what doesn’t work, Hutchinson noted.
“It’s part of a strategy to move smoothly to a non-free model where more services and features are paid or subscription-based,” he told AFP.
But before the launch, ordinary users weren’t too keen on donating money to a company that was already making huge sums of money from their data.
“Certified food fanatic. Extreme internet guru. Gamer. Evil beeraholic. Zombie ninja. Problem solver. Unapologetic alcohol lover.”
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