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First Twitter, now Instagram - This is behind the new fee trend

Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg delivered the expensive news in just a few sentences on Facebook.

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First Twitter, now Instagram - This is behind the new fee trend

Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg delivered the expensive news in just a few sentences on Facebook. "This week we will start introducing Meta Verified," the entrepreneur wrote on his social network on Sunday morning (local time). It is a new subscription service for the Group's Facebook and Instagram platforms, which allows users to verify their account with an ID card - and in return receive a blue tick symbol behind their profile name. "With this new feature, we aim to increase the authenticity and security of our services," Zuckerberg wrote.

What the Meta boss announced as a new product is actually not new. Users have already been able to have their accounts verified. However, the function was mainly reserved for celebrities. From now on everyone should be able to get the digital sign – for a monthly fee. The service starts at $11.99 per month. Meta Verified will be rolled out in Australia and New Zealand this week, with more countries to follow soon, they say.

Pay money for well-known functions? The fact that Meta is now hoping for paying users shows the current desperation of the entire industry. Because the advertising revenues of the network operators have collapsed in recent months. The market has cooled noticeably in the wake of high inflation and fears of a recession. At Meta, for example, advertising revenue per user fell by six percent to $10.86 in the fourth quarter alone. The turnover of the Facebook group fell by four percent compared to the same period last year.

YouTube is also currently struggling with problems: The video platform of the parent company Alphabet brought in just under eight billion dollars in advertising revenue in the past quarter - a decline of around eight percent compared to the previous year. The photo app Snapchat is still gaining new users, but its advertising business is not taking off either. For the current quarter, the developer Snap internally expects a decline in revenue of between two and ten percent.

And since the takeover of Twitter by Elon Musk in October, a number of advertisers have apparently also left Twitter, including numerous large corporations. Volkswagen, for example, recommended its customers in November to pause paid advertising on Twitter until further notice. "We are monitoring the situation closely and will decide on the next steps depending on how things develop," it said in a statement. The pharmaceutical company Pfizer and United Airlines also stopped advertising on the platform, as did the food manufacturer General Mills, known for brands such as Häagen-Dazs, and chocolate manufacturer Mondelez.

According to the US portal “The Information”, there were at times more than 500 companies on the list of canceled advertising partners, as insiders report. Musk, who describes himself as an "absolutist of freedom of expression", has scared off numerous corporations, especially with his vision of Twitter. They fear that the platform could take less action against hate, insults and false information - an advertising environment that companies avoid.

Twitter has added financially. According to insiders, daily sales are said to have been around 40 percent lower than at the same time last year in mid-January. Musk himself said back in November that Twitter had suffered a "massive drop in revenue" and was losing $4 million a day at the time. The entrepreneur had accused activist groups of putting pressure on advertisers.

But something else calls into question the previous business of social networks. In addition to the cooling off of the online advertising market, measures by Apple are also causing them problems - specifically privacy protection on the iPhone. App developers must ask users for explicit permission if they want to track their behavior across different applications and services in order to personalize advertising. Since many reject this, the classic online advertising models get confused.

And so it is hardly surprising that all networks are looking for new sources of income. Recently, like Meta, Twitter has also started charging money for verification with the blue tick. The revised paid subscription called "Twitter Blue" was recently launched in Germany. In addition to the tick symbol in the profile, paying users are given the opportunity to publish longer videos. Another benefit announced for the future is that tweets from subscribers will be placed more prominently.

In addition, they should only see half as much advertising. Recently, the two-factor authentication via SMS function is only available for subscribers. But what is probably the most significant change has so far only been activated for paying customers in the USA: For a few days now, their tweets have been allowed to be up to 4000 characters long instead of just 280 characters as before. Depending on the term, between seven and eleven euros per month are due for the service.

Snapchat has also had a premium model for its photo app since the summer. Subscribers can use it to see the locations of their Snapchat friend from the past 24 hours. Paying customers can also find out which Snapchat contacts have clicked on their story again. There are also other designs and symbols. Depending on the term, the service costs between EUR 3.74 and EUR 4.49.

A promise from Meta boss Zuckerberg could still make the new service palatable to users. Subscribers should get “increased visibility” on the platforms. In the search, in the comments or in recommendations, the content of the verified users is given preference, as reported by the US portal Bloomberg. The company has previously begun showing users more and more content that matches their interests. And that doesn't necessarily mean contributions from people they consciously follow.

For the time being, only adult users will be able to subscribe to the new meta service. And it is also not available for companies, they say. But everyone who already has their blue tick in their profile can breathe a sigh of relief. There will be no changes for accounts on Facebook and Instagram that are already verified.

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