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Facebook and Instagram to trial paid verification in Australia as Twitter charges for two-factor SMS authentication

Author Kathy Nickels
Date 21 February 2023

Facebook and Instagram parent company Meta is introducing a paid subscription for users to verify their accounts with a blue tick. 

Meta Platforms has announced it will be testing the monthly subscription service called Meta verified in Australia and New Zealand from this week.

The company says the service will increase the visibility of users’ posts and provide extra protection against impersonation. The move comes after Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter, implemented the premium Twitter Blue subscription back in November. 

Professor of Digital Communication and Chief Investigator at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-making and Society at QUT, Daniel Angus said he doubts that paid verification will make any difference to curb the spread of mis- and dis-information on the platform. 

“We’ve been tracking the spread of this dis-information for many years now, often of a very personal nature … This move will do nothing to actually curb the spread of that.” he said.

“It’s profitable for the platform to maintain pages and groups which spread disinformation. Verifying profiles and extracting more rent from users for doing so is not going to do anything to curb that spread, in fact it may make things worse.”

 

He said that the decision to introduce this subscription is extortionate as they are asking users to pay for something that should be an ordinary function of a social media service.

Separately, Twitter announced on Friday it would provide SMS-based two-factor authentication only to users who are subscribed to the US$8-a-month ($11.65) Twitter Blue service from 20 March.

Prof Angus says that the removal of the SMS-based two-factor authentication will make it far easier for accounts with weak passwords to be hacked. 

“The fact remains that you can’t extort users around basic security features. [Providing security to your users] is something that’s part and parcel of running a successful social media operation.” said Prof Angus.

“The fact that they’re asking for payment for [these features] shows that they’re out of ideas and we are very much in the late stage of these platforms losing their power.”

Prof Daniel Angus, Dr Belinda Barnet,  Senior Lecturer in Media and Communications at Swinburne University and Prof Tama Leaver, Professor of Internet Studies and Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child at Curtin University with reporter Scott Wales on ABC Radio National.

Listen to the interview on ABC News

Prof Daniel Angus with reporter Scott Wales ABC News, Melbourne.

Read the full transcript here 

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