👎 Get Verified
A quick look at ‘Meta Verified’ how it compounds already tooth-grinding tensions between creators and corporates (it's fun!)
Hello friends, I didn’t have much time this week so instead of lovingly collating and curating multiple bits of news, I just focussed on one bit in slightly more depth. Please enjoy the errors in spelling and grammar as if they are very good on-purpose jokes.
This week was a big fat plate of horse shit 👎. I’m so tired of using the thumbs down emoji, ffs. What I’ve covered this week:
Meta Verified: the age of paid verification has begun; pay a monthly fee and reap absolutely no benefits at all!
Paying for something that was free before is a whole new way to debase yourself — can’t wait to see how few people sign up
Online platforms are a BUSINESS and you’re just an individual who likes to be funny online; those two things just don’t work together, sorry.
☑️ Time to ‘get verified’…
In an astringent turn of events, Meta have now decided to start their own subscription service to rival Twitter Blue. What does the service do? Basically nothing. How much does it cost? Well, that depends on whether or not you have an iPhone. The tweet below contains all the details you need…
I feel like what we’re witnessing here is an inadvertent dismantling of two old and tired social platforms, catalysed by a ridiculous trend started by Elon Musk: paying for ‘verification’. What does verification even mean in this context?? According to Zuckerberg, being ‘Meta Verified’ brings you the following benefits:
You get a blue tick (grow up)
You get ‘extra’ impersonation protection (literally who cares)
You get direct access to customer support (we can all already use ChatGPT for ‘support’ for free so this feels like nothing)
Oh and you get to (have to) link your account to your government ID
The only thing that even comes close to being of actual benefit to users is the impersonation protection thing — but even that isn’t worth paying for in most cases. Out of the 2.4 billion people using Facebook every month, how many of them are actually celebrities or public figures? Because those are the only people worth impersonating, aren’t they??
As far as I can see it, with Meta Verified you’re paying to directly associate your government-issued ID with a large corporate entity that has never, and will never, prioritise your best interests or wellbeing. Having your passport connected with your Facebook or Instagram profile is fucking tyrannical. Furthermore, verification doesn’t even enhance or expand your social capital anymore — because everyone knows you paid to get that blue tick. It means nothing. This is a mechanism literally designed to take your money, and ensure Meta can prove to advertisers that you are a real person. You are a PLAIN FOOL if you think this has anything to do with ‘impersonation protection’.
This has really been eating at me this week, because I think it perfectly exemplifies the absolutely perverse trajectory we’ve been on for a while. The addition of paid tiers to services that have otherwise been free for years not only smacks of monopolistic behaviour, but also demonstrates ever-growing and undeniably palpable tension between what users want, and the capitalistic drive to increase shareholder profit with every passing quarter.
The two things cannot exist at once; creators can’t actually make, share, and monetise their work if they’re constantly bending to the will of a faceless finance department that’s trying to turn $1 into $1.10. We already give these platforms everything: we create content for free, we consume the content while tolerating ads, and we change our behaviours to work around their business models — and now they want us to pay??
This tension has been pretty obvious for some time now: the drafty gaping hole between the interests of online fandoms and corporations was really made clear in the peak of the short and tragic NFT boom. Allegra Rosenberg explained this very well in Garbage Day this week, pointing to the backlash against the Stranger Things NFT that Netflix launched for die-hard fans. What Netflix managed to expertly misunderstand here is that fandoms don’t care about owning pieces of the thing they love — they like SHARING it. That’s the whole fucking point. Their attempt to suck even more money and labour out of their fan base failed, in this case.
So, we’ve moved away from these platforms being underhanded and pernicious, and have hurtled straight into active aggression. I’m reminded of a conversation I had this week with one of my closest friends (I would die for her). She really likes watching travel videos, football highlights, and videos about buses and trains on Youtube. Recently she’s found that no matter what mixture of these things she watches on Youtube Shorts, she will eventually be recommended content that is not only completely irrelevant, but also putridly hateful. We’re talking the likes of Ben Shapiro, Elon Musk, Jordan Peterson, or whatever other perpetrators of ‘culture war’ debates are currently out there.
Why would anyone want to be subjected to content like this unless they actively seek it out? Much of this content is hateful towards minority groups that my friend is part of, and she did not ask to see it. The technologists behind Youtube (and other algorithmically curated feeds of this type) are fully aware of this, but they know that outrage is the primary driver of engagement. The goal is to keep you on the platform, no matter what. Harming users via exposure to hateful and disturbing content is therefore not an unfortunate and incidental byproduct of engaging with the platform — it’s an intentional strategic decision made in the name of corporate greed.
Whether you’re a creator or consumer of content shared on these platforms, your wants and needs will always be at odds with whatever the platform itself is trying to achieve. This has most certainly always been the case, but now that you have to pay actual money to get a ‘better version’ of Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, it’s clear that Big Tech firms are no longer interested in even pretending that they care about their users. I would laugh if I didn’t hate myself for wishing Twitter could go back to ‘how it used to be’. Please… help me. I need a new internet.
Thank you for reading; I hope absorbing my words was somehow one small step to achieving your dreams today. Have a great weekend!