Tech & The Web

The Silliest Defense of Social Media Verification Subscriptions

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Plenty of complaints cropped up amid new details about verification subscriptions for Twitter and Meta’s Facebook and Instagram.

Should users of social media platforms have to pay verification subscriptions just to get the coveted little blue checkmark on their profiles? That debate gained ground over the weekend.

First, Twitter announced it would end support for SMS Two-Factor Authentication. That means those who receive a text message with a six-digit code as an extra layer of security when they log in will either have to pay for Twitter Blue or change their 2FA method. Google Authenticator is one of several free apps that serve as an alternative.

Then, Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, announced it would roll out verification subscriptions for its users.

While Twitter Blue seems to offer additional benefits beyond the blue checkmark, Meta Verified doesn’t really seem to offer much beyond the checkmark.

As I said from the start when Twitter announced the upcoming paid verification model, if the only thing you have to do to get verified is to pay a monthly fee, the verification itself means absolutely nothing.

The argument for charging pops up

I knew I’d see someone chime in to a complaint about the new charges. I saw a similar argument pop up in the early days of newspaper firewalls. Those firewalls require readers to subscribe online to get the free content they previously never had to pay for. It, like social media verification subscriptions, cause a lot of irritation among users.

I’ll post an example of the argument, which goes something like this:

[INSERT SOCIAL PLATFORM HERE] is a valuable service. You’ve just gotten used to the fact or taken for granted that it has always been free. You’re complaing now because they’re asking you to pay a minimal fee (minimal for you, perhaps not minimal for others).

Yes, we’re complaining. We make no apologies for complaining.

You see, we’ve used the platforms for years. Some of us have used them for more than a decade. Always free.

But that’s not our fault. We didn’t force them to offer it for nothing. The people who make that ridiculous argument didn’t either. (I mean, let’s face it: Does anyone believe that these people, upon learning of the platform, try to bargain them up? Does anyone believe they insisted that they should pay for the service?

Of course not.

We didn’t set the “value” of the platform at zero.

The platform did that.

So yes, you can bet that when you’re suddenly being expected to shell out close to $10 per month, that’s going to ruffle feathers.

As to how “minimal” the fee is, that’s not anyone else’s call but the person who has to pay it. While $10 per month may not sound like a lot, how many services and subscriptions are people already paying for? Who’s to say where the line must be drawn? Frankly, that’s the subscriber’s business and no one else’s.

The platforms aren’t even giving users a “free trial” option. They could give the perks for a month and then take them away from people who didn’t pay to subscribe. That way the wonderful features would sell themselves.

On top of that, Twitter decided to take away a feature many have used for a while unless they subscribe. That makes for even more ruffled feathers.

You may believe the platforms are being perfectly reasonable. Plenty of users, however, don’t share that opinion.

That’s the biggest reason some feel the sudden requirement — or at least the strong inducement — to pay for something that has been free for years can quickly become unreasonable.

In many cases, they’re not wrong in feeling that way.

the authorPatrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.