Meta’s new paid verification subscription service, Meta Verified, has been criticized by experts who believe it risks “turning off new users with less privacy and digital experience.”

Mark Zuckerberg announced Meta Verified in an Instagram update on Sunday, seemingly taking some pointers from Elon Musk’s tumultuous Twitter takeover.

Meta Verified, priced at $11.99 a month on the web and $14.99 a month on iOS, will allow Instagram and Facebook users to gain a blue verification badge.

“This new feature is about increasing authenticity and security across our services,” Zuckerberg said.

The service draws many similarities to Twitter Blue, the Twitter subscription model that got revamped and rereleased following Musk’s takeover.

Twitter Blue was initially launched in November but was pulled from the site due to users using the new paid option to impersonate celebrities and brands.

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“Meta launching a paid subscription service to verify Facebook and Instagram users might help boost profits in the short-term, but in the long-term [it] risks turning off new users with less privacy and digital experience,” Scott Ewings, chief experience officer at TPXimpact, told Verdict.

Ewings explained that the biggest potential for Meta’s future growth comes from “new users in the developing world who may not be able to currently access premium features.”

The expert believes Facebook should be focusing “on the user’s experience” and “ how they better serve their needs” instead of creating a two-tier system.

“Otherwise they risk driving users to newer social platforms,” Ewings said.

A Meta spokesperson said there are several “impersonation protections” in place to stop Meta Verified from being misused.

Users will only have their account accepted into Meta Verified if they are at least 18 years old, can submit government ID that matches their profile details, including profile photo; and have the required amount of account activity.

Up until now verification on Facebook and Instagram has been reserved for handpicked politicians, executives, organisations, and members of the press to help provide legitimacy.

The Meta spokesperson confirmed that Meta will not be making any changes to accounts already verified as it tests its service.

However, Tesla CEO Musk has made it clear he wants to eventually remove all Twitter accounts that received their verification badge before the revamp of Twitter Blue.              

Meta has been contacted for comment.

GlobalData is the parent company of Verdict and its sister publications.