(AP) – Meta is testing a new subscription service that would allow Facebook and Instagram users to pay for a verified account.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Meta Verified on his social media accounts on Sunday. Testing will begin in New Zealand and Australia this week and will be rolled out to other countries soon, he said.
For $11.99 a month on the web or $14.99 a month on Apple and Android operating systems, Meta will use a government identification to verify a user’s account and award the account a blue badge. Previously, Meta’s blue badges were free and reserved for public figures or important companies.
Subscribers will also get added protection against account impersonation and direct access to customer support, Meta said.
“This new feature is about increasing authenticity and security across all of our services,” Zuckerberg said in his message.
Meta said public figures and others who have previously been vetted will not be affected by the change. Meta Verified is aimed at influencers and others who use social media for their business but are not prominent public figures.
Meta is taking a page out of Twitter’s playbook in launching a subscription service. Late last year, Twitter began charging users $8 a month for Twitter Blue, which verifies their account with a blue check mark.
On Saturday, Twitter took the service a step further, announcing that Twitter users would lose the ability to secure their accounts with two-factor authentication unless they paid for Twitter Blue’s $8 monthly subscription.
Social media companies have been scrambling to find new sources of revenue as online advertising slows down. Earlier this month, Meta announced its third consecutive quarter of revenue declines despite an increase in users. Meta announced in November it would lay off 11,000 workers, or 13% of its workforce.