I hate to admit it, but I own a vanity license plate.
Before you judge, know this: It came with the vehicle. I love it, actually — it’s fun to talk to people about how I ended up with the custom plate and bought the car in the first place. I doubt I would ever pay extra for something like this, especially since it’s such a status symbol.
I have the same view about social media verified badges. Recently, Meta (the parent company of both Facebook and Instagram) announced a new Meta Verified program where you pay about $12 to let the world know you are not just one of the mindless minions.
The company is rolling it out overseas for now, and it bears a striking resemblance to the Twitter Blue badge I tested not too long ago.
Like that vanity plate, it’s mostly a status symbol that you are the person you say you are. Even the Meta Verified perks remind me of Twitter Blue. Your profile will appear more frequently in searches and it’s a way to make sure no one can impersonate you. According to the announcement, you also get priority customer service.
“Some of the top requests we get from creators are for broader access to verification and account support, in addition to more features to increase visibility and reach. Since last year, we’ve been thinking about how to unlock access to these features through a paid offering,” the company explained in the announcement. Apparently, you also gain exclusive access to new features.
All you need is a government-issued identification and…some cash.
It’s all a bit much, though.
Like someone wearing blindfolds in a dark room looking for a light switch, both Meta and Twitter are on the hunt for some extra revenue, especially since advertisers are starting to wonder if there’s really any value in trying to reach new customers through these platforms.
The verification subscription shows that social media companies don’t really know their own users. The free apps provide some value, but paying extra for services that should be included for free doesn’t really make sense.
For starters, if there is a vanity badge on social media, it should be something you have to earn or prove you deserve in some ways. To simply pay for the privilege seems to defeat the purpose. One of the main benefits to the paid service is that you can talk to an actual human about your Facebook and Instagram problems. I wonder if it would be better to make a useful product that doesn’t require that much support? Or to provide the support to everyone like most companies do?
I’ve mentioned this before, but we moved on from the vanity mindset a long time ago. We don’t care. Ever since Klout went the way of the dinosaurs, we’ve all realized that a vanity badge has about as much meaning as winning a free shake at DQ.
To me, it sounds like a desperate attempt to sucker a few unsuspecting users into paying Meta money for something that won’t really make any difference in your life — virtual or physical. Now the question is, can they figure out what people really want?