Blue Check Verification: Faux or Fact?

Gone are the days of earning your online identity, and now is the era of purchasing how you are perceived online. Recently, Meta, the network including Facebook and Instagram, has decided to adopt a new meaning to their blue check verification. The blue check has been a symbol placed on the profiles of well-known people like celebrities, journalists, and influencers. The platforms provided these individuals with a symbol of verification that the profile was authentic, as social media platforms have seen a rise in fake profiles for notable people. Now, Meta platforms, along with Twitter, are allowing all users to have the opportunity to have a verified profile through a monthly subscription process. Social media users have mixed feelings about the ethics behind this change, so let’s break it down.

The Original Blue Check

Since the beginning of the verification process, the blue check only had one purpose: to show that the user’s account is official. However, the exclusivity of the blue check undoubtedly represented popularity and influence. Though any user can apply to be verified, they must gain approval from the platform. Users are held accountable to a list of requirements through the verification process, including active use, earned media (i.e., proof of media mentions), and a complete, unique profile. With these tight requirements, it isn’t typical for an average user to become verified. 

The New Blue Check

Now that all users can obtain a blue check, its purpose isn’t to represent social influence but rather to act as protection for your profile. The subscriptions range from $11.99-$14.99 a month and aim to provide upgraded profile security, authentication, and customer service. Elon Musk includes additional features, like post-editing, to encourage Twitter users. The social media networks hope this service will promote better security and authenticity across their platforms. 

Is It Ethical?

Personally, I don’t believe that it is ethical to charge users in order for their profiles to be protected against cyber-hackers or to receive customer support services. A Twitter user explains, “Making users pay for account verification and security services is like a car manufacturer charging extra for seatbelts and airbags,” and I agree with the comparison. Users expect social networks to work against fake profiles and cyberattacks. This approach to “increased protection” causes users to believe they may be more susceptible to safety concerns without the expensive service.

Though the social media platforms attempt to ensure authenticity through the submission of government identification, it raises the question of how Meta and Twitter store this information. Overall, it seems that the new blue check verification process could use some tweaks before being released to the public. The current layout of the verification process can be perceived as unethical and counterproductive by users due to high monthly prices and preconceived notions toward their profile security. Before platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter release the new blue check, they may want to reconsider what it really means to be authentic. 

Mia Senick, Account Associate


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