Meta Verified won't let you change name, username or profile photo for now

After looking at Twitter's struggle with impersonation problems when Elon Musk relaunched Twitter Blue, Mark Zuckerberg is putting up guardrails before launching Meta Verified.

Earlier this week, the company announced its subscription plan, which is set to be available for users in New Zealand and Australia in the next few days. If you pay for Meta Verified, you won't be able to change your profile name, username, date of birth or photo. The company will block any such efforts. If you need to change any of the above you will need to unsubscribe and apply again.

"At this time, Meta Verified will only support your real name on your profile. Once your profile is verified, you can’t change the profile name, username, date of birth, or photo on your profile without going through the Meta Verified subscription and verifications application process again," the company said in a blog post.

A Meta spokesperson told TechCrunch that the tech giant is working on a "fast follow feature" that will let users change any of the above through a verification process without needing to cancel the subscription.

What's more, to subscribe to Meta Verified a user needs to be at least 18 years old, have two-factor authentication turned on and submit a government ID that matches their photo on Facebook or Instagram. In addition to that, the user will need to have minimum activity requirements such as posting in the recent past. The company said it will publish detailed requirements when the paid plan becomes available this week.

Meta also shared some details on its plan for the verification badge. It said that at the moment, "the blue badge will look the same as we evolve the meaning of the badge to focus on authenticity." The company said it will display the follower count of legacy verified accounts in more places to differentiate them from Meta Verified accounts.

For example, if two accounts have the same name, you will see the follower count of the legacy verified account in the search. It's not clear how easy it is to spot for an average user who might be skimming through screens quickly. Users might also not see a follower count while going through posts. It could lead to some confusion between a Meta Verified account and a popular account. We have already seen that on Twitter, despite the social network putting in boundaries to avoid impersonation, bad-faith actors have found loopholes in the system.

Late Thursday, Instagram updated its support page for verified badges with a new description that says that the badge could be used to find real accounts of people. The earlier description mentioned that the badge was the mark of "real accounts of public figures".

"The verified badge is a tool to help people find the real accounts of people and brands. If an account has the verified badge, we’ve confirmed that it represents who it says it does. A verified badge is not a symbol to show importance, authority, or subject matter expertise," the new description says.

Meta Verified's prime offering is an increase in reach for paid users. Combined with verification, it could cause a lot of chaos, including amplifying hate speech or misinformation. So it's going to be important to track how users react to the new subscription product in New Zealand and Australia.

In a statement, Meta said that to stop misinformation all posts from paid users will have to adhere to its content guidelines. Plus, the company will take quick action against harmful posts.

“All Meta Verified subscribers and their content must adhere to all of our policies, including the Facebook Community Standards, Facebook Terms of Use, Instagram Community Guidelines, Instagram Terms of Use, and Meta Advertising Standards. If a violation occurs, we will take swift action against the harmful behavior. We also continue to have policies that prohibit certain types of misinformation that may be harmful, and work to slow the spread of hoaxes and viral misinformation,” a Meta spokesperson said.

24/02/2022 4 PM IST: The story was updated to include a new description of the verification badge from Instagram.