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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Paid Facebook and Instagram accounts are coming to Australia

Users have mixed feelings about the new subscription service that offers exclusive features and ticks.

Two weeks ago, Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, announced a new service that aims to offer users exclusive features and the coveted blue tick.

For a monthly subscription fee, users can access live customer support, phishing protection, increased visibility and reach, and exclusive features to “express yourself in a unique way,” the company says. Users can also use government-issued IDs to authenticate their accounts and receive a verification tick if their account names match.

Following a similar move by Twitter a few months ago, the announcement has sparked debate about the ethics of asking users to pay for support and a security feature that many believe is fundamental to the social media platform. One technology columnist compared the practice to protective bats. Others refer to the Meta service as a “maker tax” – the price for trying to build a brand on Instagram or Facebook. (Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said it would take “significant amounts of money” to verify privacy and provide one-on-one customer support for all users.)

Ethics issues aside, I was curious how the service would work. Meta started offering it to users in Australia and New Zealand as a test run before rolling it out to other countries, including the US, so I tracked down the first three users in Australia to ask them why they signed up for their take on Meta. Service and is it worth the price?

The three users I spoke to initially had mixed feelings. All of them signed up, at least in part, to test the service and document their experience, and say they only had the opportunity to sign up two or three days ago (although Facebook says it started last week with the service launch). Service will start). , meaning they don’t have time to test features like extra visibility and identity protection.

Although the service was initially announced as $11.99 per month for desktop users and $14.99 per app for mobile devices, Australian and New Zealand customers must pay a little more. All three users I spoke to paid AU$24.99 ($16.88) for a mobile subscription — or double if they wanted to be verified on Instagram and Facebook.

The live support feature isn’t the live chat that some people imagine, says Jonah Mazzano, a musician verified on Facebook but not Instagram. Instead, it’s an in-app form that you fill out and then email it to Meta. Response within two hours is guaranteed. Mr. Mazzano said it took about 30 minutes to get a generic answer when he sent a request for verification details for another account.

“I don’t think they know the process; I think they are just there to give you connection and general support,” he said, adding that he didn’t speak to one person during the conversation, but many people responded. to successive messages.

Jodi Millward, the Queensland digital marketing strategist, pays Instagram and Facebook subscriptions. While he finds it “frustrating that you have to pay for additional support,” he said he will likely continue to pay A$49.98 a month in the hope the additional coverage and services will help his business, where he mainly works at Facebook.

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The immediate benefit, three users said, is that no one can identify a verification badge when purchased, as opposed to being given because the account is owned by a celebrity — unlike Twitter, where you can see if an account has a blue badge because it’s an “old” account. ” or because the user purchased a Twitter Blue subscription.

But it may be a temporary benefit, says Paul Ramondo, a digital marketing specialist in Western Australia. “They have maybe two or three weeks of happiness before the meta changes or people jump in.”

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