Facebook and Instagram began a week-long rollout of their first paid verification service on Friday, testing users' willingness to pay for social media features that until now have been free.
Facing a drop in advertising revenues, parent company Meta is piloting a subscription in Australia and New Zealand before it appears in larger markets. The service will cost US$11.99 on the web and US$14.99 on the iOS and Android mobile platforms.
From Friday, subscribers Down Under who provide government-issued IDs can start applying for a verified badge, offering protection against impersonation, direct access to customer support and more visibility, according to the company.
"We'll be gradually rolling out access to Meta Verified on Facebook and Instagram and expect to reach 100 percent availability within the first 7 days of the rollout," a Meta spokesperson told AFP.
Some attempts to join Meta Verified from Sydney found the service was not available on the first day of the rollout.
"This new feature is about increasing authenticity and security across our services," Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a statement posted on Facebook and Instagram.
Crucially, the move also provides Meta with a way of mining more revenue from its two billion users.
The swelling army of creators, influencers and pseudo-celebrities who make a living online could be obvious users of verification, according to experts.
Many of them complain that it can be difficult to smooth technical and administrative problems, causing delays and lost revenue.