Is the clock already ticking for
paid verification?

A blue tick was once a badge of honour in the world of social media. It told us a profile was legitimate, that people were who they said they were, and was sported by the likes of celebrities, journalists and brands. But since Twitter launched ‘Twitter Blue’ and decided to let anyone and everyone buy their own verification, we think the blue tick has come to mean something different.

Meta recently followed Twitter’s lead, deciding to offer paid verification too, through a monthly subscription of $11.99 USD.  In return, the platforms promising increased reach, better security, and customer service from real people (we like the sound of this!)

We’ve heard a lot of speculation around what impact these new cash-for-accreditation subscriptions will have on social media and its users. Is a subscription model the right move for ‘free’ social media platforms, or will paid finally push wavering users over the edge? Keep reading to hear what we think.

Paid verification undermines the very thing it promises to deliver

Now that verification’s available to anyone willing to splash the cash, it’s lost a lot of its value. The prospect of being part of an exclusive club is an appealing one. We can already see this in the low uptake of ‘Twitter Blue’ – only 0.2% of users have subscribed.

And this is only the beginning of Twitter Blue’s troubles. A number of fraudsters have wreaked havoc by creating parody accounts, pretending to be celebrities and brands. As you can imagine, it’s been the cause of PR nightmares, in abundance. And it looks like Meta is opening that very same can of worms by introducing paid verification. Meaning brands and creators will have to fend for themselves and subscribe simply to protect their accounts from scammers.

The supposed ‘Democratisation of the Blue Tick’ will actually divide users

By giving subscribers ‘extra security’, Meta’s suggesting that other users aren’t going to be protected to the same level. And is this a smart move, when we consider we’re in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis? We think not. It seems like it could alienate users who don’t have access to the disposable income to pay for it. And, if they’re relying on this paid model to fund security upgrades, they’re going to be leaving themselves wide open to potentially long-term security issues which could really affect the wider safety of the platform.

And what about the impact on creators?

Paid verification has the potential to stifle new talent and diversity, as it could limit the reach or ‘authenticity’ *cough* of creators from underrepresented backgrounds. It could potentially make it even harder for them to break through, in what could become a free-for-all that only affluent creators and larger brands can take advantage of.

Working with creators has always been about authenticity. But now they can buy it in a few clicks, choosing who to work with has just got a lot more complicated. While the identification tools scramble to figure out the best way to add paid vs earned verification to their scoring systems, brands and agencies need to think about the impact on upcoming campaigns.

We need to dig deep to find where that true audience lies and really unlock the potential of a creator. A blue tick or verification won’t be enough for the savvy brand, you can’t simply buy authenticity and it may even put them off.

In conclusion…

People want to be able to trust the social accounts they follow. They’re screaming out for authenticity and instead they’ve been given the exact opposite. We understand that social networks are looking for ways to monetise their platforms, but it seems like they’re simply passing on the cost of security and hoping no one notices… cheeky. Brands will need to rethink their influencer strategies and partner with the right people to make sure their social campaigns are worthwhile, relevant and authentic.