Facebook will launch a paid subscription

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Facebook and Instagram owner Meta will launch a paid subscription service starting at $11.99 a month that allows users to verify their accounts, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Sunday, following a similar move by Elon Musk at Twitter.

Meta Verified, which will first launch in Australia and New Zealand this week, will allow users to verify their account with a government ID, get a blue badge, get extra protection against identity theft, and get direct access to customer support, Mark Zuckerberg said.

« This new feature is about strengthening the authenticity and security of our services, » he wrote in a statement posted on his Facebook account.

There would be no change for accounts on Facebook and Instagram that are already verified, the company said, adding that only users over 18 will be allowed to subscribe. The service is not yet available for businesses.

Musk’s initial attempts to launch a similar service on rival social network Twitter last year backfired with an embarrassing wave of fake accounts that spooked advertisers and cast doubt on the site’s future.

It was forced to briefly suspend its efforts before relaunching in December to a mixed reception.

Meta’s announcement comes as the social networking giant has struggled financially over the past year, announcing in November that it would lay off 11,000 employees, or 13 percent of its staff, the largest staff reduction in the company’s history.

The layoffs are part of a wave of layoffs announced by Silicon Valley giants in recent months, as the once unassailable industry faces economic gloom.

Meta is also under pressure for making a huge bet on the metaverse, the world of virtual reality that Zuckerberg says will be the next online frontier.

Last year, investors punished Meta, causing the company’s share price to fall by two-thirds over 12 months, but the stock recovered some of the ground in 2023.

Earlier this month, the company reported its first annual sales decline since going public in 2012, but the drop was less steep than expected.

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