Sahail Ashraf posted on 22 February 2023
Twitter has set what could well be a precedent.
We all know how Twitter started charging for the blue check, and how it was initially received. It wasn’t incredibly popular. But it seems that Meta has taken on board the idea, and may even be considering it for the platforms it owns.
Someone has been able to find mention of a subscription model in the code that is used to run Meta and Instagram (we are referring to Meta as Facebook the platform here). Apart from this involving some rather special IT capabilities, it’s pretty exciting stuff.
What’s particularly exciting is that the code refers to the potential subscription model as ‘paid blue badge’. While this doesn’t mean that Meta is considering the move towards paid checks, it does sound intriguing.
Twitter has become one of the most popular social media platforms in the world, with millions of users all over the planet. Along the way, and in order to keep up with the ever-changing online landscape, Twitter implemented a verification system that awarded certain users a blue check mark.
The blue check mark was a badge of honour for users who had been verified by Twitter and was a sign of authenticity. The blue check mark was originally only awarded to users who had been verified by Twitter. This verification process required users to provide Twitter with proof of their identity, such as a valid government-issued ID, or other proof.
Once users had been verified, they were given the blue check mark so that other users could easily identify them as genuine. The blue check mark was an important part of Twitter’s verification system because it helped ensure that users were legitimate. By verifying the identity of users, Twitter was able to prevent people from impersonating others, or using false identities to spread false information. It also helped to protect users from online scams and harassment.
However, in addition to verifying users, the blue check mark was also seen as a status symbol. Having a blue check mark indicated that the user was an important or influential figure, which could be beneficial for their career or brand.
It was also indicative of a user’s popularity and influence, as it showed that they had been recognized by Twitter as an important figure. Having a blue check mark indicated that the user was important and influential, and was a sign of credibility and trustworthiness.
That all changed when Twitter decided to charge people for having a blue check mark. How could it be a sign of exclusivity and influence if anyone could have it (as long as they could afford it)?
As Twitter already makes $7 million per quarter from Twitter Blue subscriptions, maybe Meta is seeking a way to supplement its own intake, to make up for lost ad dollars and rising costs of its metaverse development.
In the past, Meta has always maintained that it would never charge anyone to use the platform. And while that may still be the case with a blue check charge (it’s not stopping anyone actually using the platform) it still seems a little cynical.
If it does happen, it’s hard not to imagine Meta becoming a little devalued. Whatever is happening at Twitter, it hasn’t quite collapsed just yet. There are still millions of loyal users. However, if a viable and free alternative to Twitter arrives, it could start to lose those users.
There is a deeper existential crisis going on here. If Meta feels that having a paid element is worthwhile, it is admitting that popularity and prestige is worth paying for. And that’s very much against the original aims of Facebook.
Also, Meta is the king of the ad model. It makes its money from ads primarily. If a free user had to still watch ads while Meta makes money from blue subscriptions, there’s a bit of a disconnect there.
Maybe Meta will bite the bullet and offer a ‘pay us and you can get rid of the ads’ subscription? It’s been talked about for a while, and it could quite easily be a popular option.
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