Traditionally free for use, some social platforms are now charging monthly fees for authentication certifications. The move feels similar to the “premium subscription” options on streaming services, except for the fact that ads will still appear on-screen as users scroll. Where will this lead social media platforms in the future?

Twitter Blue, introduced in December, verifies user accounts for a monthly fee. Twitter also began limiting its two-factor authentication to verified accounts, elevating security and authenticity for those accounts alone.

In February, Meta announced its own paid version of its social platforms Meta and Instagram. Meta Verified charges users a monthly fee for better security, a verification badge in their profile, and access to a personal support representative to assist with anything from account issues to “increased reach and visibility” on the platforms.

I'm really hoping that AI is more subscription-based than attention-based.

Scott Galloway

NYU Stern Business School Professor and author

NYU Stern School of Business Professor and author Scott Galloway, who co-hosts the Pivot podcast with journalist Kara Swisher, shared his thoughts about AI and the subscription-based platform models on the episode: "ChatGPT Will See You Now, and Silicon Valley Bank Fallout." "I'm really hoping that AI is more subscription-based than attention-based, because I find that attention-based models just lead to terrible places," he stated.

In years past, other online platforms have embraced premium offerings for regular fees. Snap offers its subscribers early access to new features and releases, Discord customizes their feeds, and YouTube limits ads. However, with paid-for account verifications becoming a new norm on major platforms, a new class of users and creators is emerging. If creators, brands, and users are paying for reach online, the old algorithmic strategies may no longer apply to the accounts vying to appear at the top of their followers’ feeds.

The Intelligence take

Platforms created to be free-to-use are looking for new paths for revenue as data privacy rules and security thresholds limit advertisers’ ability to post and target audiences online. Subscription-like fees, paired with additional perks for better usage on the platforms, are targeted to those who want to verify their profiles publicly. With authentication-centered fees for “verified” and “unverified” user classes are becoming the new norm.

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