back to article Meta to add verification to Facebook and Insta under scheme that should avoid Twitter's Musk-stakes

Social network supremo Mark Zuckerberg announced on Sunday that the artist formerly known as Facebook will follow in the footsteps of Twitter by offering a paid service: Meta Verified. For $11.99 a month on the web, or $14.99 a month on iOS, users of both Facebook and Instagram, age 18 and older, will be able to subscribe to a …

  1. Alumoi Silver badge

    Avoiding impersonators

    Yeah, sure, pull another one.

    Let me translate the whole idea in plain English: YOU pay us to collect your VERIFIED personal information so WE can guarantee scammers.... erms, sorry, ad companies, that you are who you pretend to be.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I think that's something my grandma does.

    2. Winkypop Silver badge

      Re: Avoiding impersonators

      I came here to say the same.

      +1 from me.

    3. CatWithChainsaw

      Re: Avoiding impersonators

      IIRC, Facebook was already tightening screws getting people to upload identification for verification purposes years ago, and now we're paying for the privilege.

    4. Sampler

      Re: Avoiding impersonators

      Imaging paying for the privilege of being the product...

    5. NoneSuch Silver badge

      Re: Avoiding impersonators

      "Let me translate the whole idea in plain English: YOU pay us to collect your VERIFIED personal information so WE can guarantee scammers.... erms, sorry, ad companies, that you are who you pretend to be."

      Let me fix that for you:

      Let me translate the whole idea in plain English: YOU sell off our VERIFIED personal information so WE can get ads from companies who also pay you, then you want US to pay a monthly fee for the privilege of seeing them?

      "For $11.99 a month on the web, or $14.99 a month on iOS" - Let me guess. Yep, exactly 30% increase. ROTF.

      Reminds me of the Frantics - Idiot Tax

  2. Joe W Silver badge

    Verified ID?

    Yeah... "new"...

    Once upon a time I was trying to register at FB. I no longer have the email address, nor the (then required) cell phone number, so they can just keep that information, I care not. As I did not "friend" all of my suggestions, nor share my latest meal and its processing in all its nasty detail my account was deactivated (or put on "hold") unless I provide them with a picture of a government issued ID. Yeah. Right. Fat chance. So they can just, I think the term used here is "Zuck off".

    1. that one in the corner Silver badge

      Re: Verified ID?

      I too had an account shut because I wasn't able (let alone willing!) to prove Official ID to prove exactly which corner they needed to look. Oh woe, oh calamity, oh look, I can just start a new account from which to - well, no need to go into sordid details.

      But that is the Pure Genius of Meta: previously, they were rudely demanding this ID and making us feel like criminal troglodytes if we weren't even able to prove ourselves to FB. No wonder we felt frustrated and angry, throwing a tantrum[1] and refusing to hand over our ID.

      NOW we are being asked to pay to show that we are Super Special, part of the In Crowd - you used to be just another random Joe Bloggs, now you can be JOE BLOGGS! You are buying a service, no longer just being the product, so of course we need your ID, just like you show it for Other Important Life Events[2].

      [1] from Zuck's p.o.v.

      [2] FB is for life, it'll follow you forever and ever and ever

  3. Zolko Silver badge

    This smells of desperation

  4. DS999 Silver badge

    This is going to be a big flop

    I suppose people with hundreds of thousands of followers will spring for it since they will fear losing reach if they don't. But I'll bet zero of my friends do this, instead we'll all just see less of each others' posts and more of the sponsored crap that is flooding the feed more and more.

    Facebook is looking like it is entering the Myspace death spiral. Myspace was true "spam", this is "real" posts but when it prevents me from seeing stuff my friends post it amounts to the same thing. I'm seeing them use "stories" more and more since that's the only way to rise above the sponsored stuff but I'm sure Zuck is figuring out a way to sabotage that as well.

  5. msknight

    And if they do a Twitter... allowing the taliban to buy blue verification ticks then I'll abandon them just as I've abandoned Twitter too.

  6. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Someone is being optimistic

    A quick search tells me that Meta has around three billion users as of last year, and that they had four and a half billion in income for 2022Q4 - so say, eighteen billion dollars income for three billion users, or six bucks each per year.

    And they'd like users to pay twenty-four times that amount? And presumably still get the six bucks from advertisers (because a billion here, a billion there...)

    And in the meantime, require said users to submit copies of government provided ID? Can we say 'hackers paradise'?

    1. Roger Greenwood

      Re: Someone is being optimistic

      Is it 3 billion users though, or just accounts? I have at least 3 of those, only 1 still used occasionally.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Someone is being optimistic

        The source I found - first hit - was Statista, which claimed three billion active account users.

        1. NoneSuch Silver badge

          Re: Someone is being optimistic

          Hahahahahaha, 3 billion active accounts eh? Define "active."

          Even the number of people that died since FB became a thing is in the millions. American, Russian and Chinese bot accounts are probably in the majority.

          Oh, I needed a good belly laugh before bed. Thanks.

      2. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Someone is being optimistic

        Also, if you are on FaceBook, Instagram, and Whatsapp; that presumably counts as three accounts?

  7. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    I'm in!

    I can allow FB access to my official ID documentation (which they will obviously not store or use in any way as they are a trustworthy company), I can pay them for the privilege and then, in return for my money, FB gives me a blue "gullible dot" moniker and continues to allow advertisers to feed me irrelevant or spam adverts and games who know I'm a real target, FB can even charge those advertisers a fee for "gullible dot" target lists! Everyone's a winner ... apart from me it appears.

  8. Jellied Eel Silver badge

    Pull my other Clegg

    Responding to a commentor on his Facebook feed, Zuckerberg said Meta "already [provides] protections and some support for everyone. But verifying government IDs and providing direct access to customer support for millions or billions of people costs a significant amount of money.

    Once upon a time, the UK dabbled with ID Cards, and 'Trusted Identity' schemes. Some worked, some didn't, creeping compulsion remains and for some government services, you can sign in with your FaceMelta or AlphaGoo account. This was quick, easy, and free. The only cost being requiring one of those accounts, and allowing the data rapists even more visibility into your life.

    Governments pay big tech for these services, but as always, they want more. Who are you? What are you doing? Stop it at once or you'll go blind and cost the NHS a fortune!

    So we got this-

    For example, if a person wants to prove they are over 18 to buy age-restricted products, they could create a digital identity with a trusted organisation by sharing personal information such as their name and date of birth. This digital identity could then be used to prove to a retailer they are over-18, without the need to reveal the personal information used to create the digital identity, boosting users’ privacy, unlike physical documents which may disclose date of birth, name and address.

    The ODIA will have the power to issue an easily recognised trustmark to certified digital identity organisations, to prove they meet the security and privacy standards needed to handle people’s data in a safe and consistent way.

    Sadly, ID Cards have never gone away, and lobbying for them hasn't either. ID Cards were sold to the public by telling us it would 'make our lives easier' to do stuff we were already used to doing. We could buy booze by flashing our card, and that transaction could be logged for future use. We could surf pron, and that transaction will be logged for future use.

    So now we'll soon be able to have our transactions logged by presenting our 'smart' surveillance devices, which means Apple, AlphaGoo, FaceMelta etc will be able to flog trusted identity data to their partners and advertisers.

    All it'll cost you is $12-$15 a month! A small price to pay to help Big Tech prove to their customers that you're not a bot account, and their ad-slinging tech is worth it, because you're worth it. Unless you don't have a compatible Digital Lifestyle Assistant following you everywhere. Then you're just SoL and won't be able to do stuff because, well, you can't be trusted. It's proposed legislation after all, so it'll be harder to avoid.

    So far from costing poor lil Zuck money, policy proposals like this stand to make him a lot of money. Which is ironic given recent events show that a lot of 'Big Tech' just can't be trusted.

    1. Lon24

      Re: Pull my other Clegg

      A forum I use has early morning spam ads for fake ID. Just choose your country. These days that won't get you past border control but are Meta actually going to verify the dodgy scan/photo of the ID against the passport office of your chosen country? I mean any Photoshop practitioner can save you even the cost of that. Verifying without national verification isn't going to work. So we shall have to see how serious Meta are about authenticity or profit.

      Mind you if Meta pull that off we could imagine a future where you could travel the world just on your Facebook ID. Myself, I prefer the past ;-)

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Pull my other Clegg

        And even if they verify that the passport details match the passport number, that doesn't prove you are the legitimate owner of the passport.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Pull my other Clegg

          You know there are tons of companies that do this right? Apps that you take photo of your passport and a live image of you from your camera to compare,etc.

          1. Zolko Silver badge

            Re: Pull my other Clegg

            Wot ? I've not even heard of anything like that, so there can't be tons doing it. Wait .... Zuck, is that you trying to convince people of this crap ?

      2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: Pull my other Clegg

        Verifying without national verification isn't going to work. So we shall have to see how serious Meta are about authenticity or profit.

        I think they're very serious about profit, much less so about security or authenticity. Big Tech has been lobbying for years to get government pork for Trusted Identity Services, and why they hire people like Clegg*. Parts of it are already in place, ie the official sites that 'allow' you to sign in with your social media account. It's a massive business opportunity to insert yourself into as many transactions as possible, and charge either transaction or service fees. Parts of the national verification already seem to be in place. I can't remember which provider it was, but I was once told I needed to supply my driver's licence ID number to reset a password. I did, and it failed, which puzzled me because I was sitting there holding my licence. But for it to work as verification, they would have needed access to DVLA data.

        Governments seem increasingly keen to share that personal data, and less keen to contemplate the risks it creates. I've had other companies ask for a scan of my passport to 'prove my identity'. Great, now aggregators can sell enough of my personal information to help create more plausible driver's licences and passports. Generally there's no real liability or punishment, if your data are used for ID theft, and very rarely reflect the cost and hassle of trying to reclaim your identity.

        But regulatory capture is a great way to generate collosal profits, which is why Big Tech spends so much lobbying. If legislation passes to require 'Trusted ID' or even age verification services, and you can charge $12-15 a month to users, it's easy money. Rather than data hygiene and Data Protection legislation requiring accurate data, you can offload those costs onto your users and turn it into a fat profit centre.

        *Then again, it was rather amusing watching Clegg as official FaceMelta spox announcing the return of the Trump to Facebook.

        1. R Soul Silver badge

          Re: Pull my other Clegg

          "I was once told I needed to supply my driver's licence ID number to reset a password. I did, and it failed, which puzzled me because I was sitting there holding my licence. But for it to work as verification, they would have needed access to DVLA data."

          Didn't it cross your mind this was a scam to harvest driver licence data?

          1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

            Re: Pull my other Clegg

            I would think it's such a scam even if it works.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Pull my other Clegg

            Didn't it cross your mind that companies can access DVLA data for verification purposes?

          3. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: Pull my other Clegg

            Didn't it cross your mind this was a scam to harvest driver licence data?

            Yes. I've been doing this a while, so the site would have been one I generally trusted, and any time I have doubts, I do my own verifications. I was also curious how and why they wanted the licence ID given it was nothing to do with driving. Also the first time I entered the licence number, I deliberately entered it incorrectly. If it had validated, I would have been a lot more dubious.

            But it's a common scam. Someone will call or contact you saying they're from some generally trustworthy enterprise. Then it's the stock phishing/social engineering trick 'for security reasons, we need you to answer the following questions'. And a depressing number of people do this, and give the standard answers. Not realising it's a tad difficult to get your DOB or mother's maiden name legally changed because some scumbag's busily abusing your ID.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Pull my other Clegg

          This seems like a good time to remind everyone that a cleg (or clegg) is an annoying biting blood-sucking insect (also known as a horse-fly)…

          [Exits, muttering something about nominative determinism…?]

      3. that one in the corner Silver badge

        Re: Pull my other Clegg

        How good are Stable Diffusion or its cousins at generating ID cards?

        Bound to have been a pile of relevant images in the training data as it was borrowed from the web...

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Pull my other Clegg

          ID cards that can be used for online services don't rely on images but on embedded chips, which encrypt the data. Not that this isn't without problems, but it is difficult to forge. Passport scanners and other services can use multiple wavelengths which make forgeries much much harder.

  9. Roland6 Silver badge

    "..a drop in the $113 billion ocean that is Meta's 2022 annual revenue."

    Yet even if a million users sign up for the paid program, at $12 each per month, that only adds up to $144 million a year – a drop in the $113 billion ocean that is Meta's 2022 annual revenue..

    However, look at this slightly differently. With nearly 3 billion users Facebook needs less than a third of them to sign up to no longer need to entertain advertisers...

    1. cookieMonster Silver badge

      Re: "..a drop in the $113 billion ocean that is Meta's 2022 annual revenue."

      Ha ha ha ha, oh god,

      That was funny!!!

      Have a pint.

    2. CatWithChainsaw

      Re: "..a drop in the $113 billion ocean that is Meta's 2022 annual revenue."

      With no reason NOT to double-dip, why would they forbear?

  10. Long John Silver

    Facebook and Twitter are failures, that is except in revenue terms

    Facebook and Twitter had potential to harness the Internet in a manner advantageous to ordinary people across the planet. Suitably organised each could have offered tremendous impetus towards interconnecting divers aspects of human culture and to enabling productive conversations among people who might never meet.

    Instead, these unsocial media were developed according to Neo-liberal doctrine wherein everything must be monetised to the highest degree possible. That assessment accords with what is known about the characters and motivations of each medium's progenitor. The result is ill-designed tacky structures built upon maximum 'ad'-generated income.

    A feature of Twitter design which ought have been fixed long ago is its propensity for generating massive positive feedback loops, the screeching voices of which are called 'going viral'. This feature is societally damaging because it enables Internet versions of mobs, witch-hunts, and tub-thumping. In nations such as the UK and USA, where educational levels have been dropping for decades, a secondary phenomenon has arisen: claim that 'truth' in an idea rests upon the number of people believing it (vaguely Terry Pratchett 'Small Gods' territory). That idea is as ridiculous as believing universal franchise representative 'democracy' leads to good governance.

    A partial fix for that problem rests in introducing delays (various means feasible) into how soon people may respond.

    Another error of Twitter configuration is the notion of 'tweets' being brief expressions of opinion. Assertions are easily stated but backing for them not so. Discussions inevitably are vacuous.

    As for Facebook, I have not bothered to delve. I really don't wish to meet the people dwelling there.

    Almost everyone who considers himself a person of note feels obliged to have social media presence. From the Pope, downwards through the King of England, onwards via all grades of politician, absolutely inclusively of 'causes', cheap advertising for commerce, and beset by 'celebrity' dross.

    There appear to be few people possessing what once was considered a virtue: discrimination. These will not be found on mass social media.

    1. Lost Neutrino

      How very refreshing!

      A sober-minded and considerate account of the current state of affairs. Thank you!

      That one's on me ----->

  11. CatWithChainsaw

    Though it makes one wonder..

    If these services had always been subscription model, would the world of the past ten years or so have been markedly different?

  12. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I doubt this is going to stop determined scammer who can use fake ID and stolen cards to make verified accounts. So its clearly just a money grab exercise after they saw Musk's attempt and figured they might as well have a go since only older people are left actively using Facebook now, and even the youth are now abandoning Instagram for Tiktok.

    And I for one wouldnt trust Meta with my ID information if they did ask me to provide photo ID or they close my account ill just tell them where to stick it.

  13. DownUndaRob

    Disabling of Accounts

    But will the disabling of accounts for no communicated reason except for a vague wave to community standards still continue??

  14. mpi Silver badge

    Let me state this as clearly and as calmly as I can

    Hell will freeze solid, entropy will reverse, and I will learn playing the trumpet solely while riding unicycles, before I upload an official ID, to anything that even remotely looks like it could be related to Meta.

  15. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

    I'm gonna laugh

    When this time next year it comes out that Faecesbook only has a about 50,000 actual users.

    I am not, and never will, be one of them.

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