Photo by Dima Solomin on Unsplash

New Zealanders may miss out on a whole lot of desirable tech from firms that concentrate on the US and Europe, but good news: Mark Zuckerberg views Kiwis as the perfect guinea pigs to test the latest Facebook and Instagram changes.

Taking the brave decision to extract a leaf out of Elon Musk’s social media management playbook, Facebook intends to let users pay for verification of their Facebook and Instagram accounts

This will set you back NZ$23.99 a month (!) if you buy direct from Meta on the web, or NZ$29.99 if you do it via the apps, so poor impoverished Meta doesn’t lose money to Google and Apple in app-store tax.

So, what do you get for your money? “Extra impersonation protection” and “access to account support” are two things which should probably come with any account, but the promise of “increased visibility and reach” will certainly be appealing to the attention-grabbing narcissists of the web.

But your mileage may vary. “Subscribers with a smaller following may see a more noticeable impact to their reach since their audiences are smaller,” Meta notes in the small print.

If you want to help Meta keep the lights on and avoid making more redundancies as it pursues its, uh, ‘ambitious’ plans for the Metaverse, then you’ll be able to do so this week. 

You just need to supply a government ID with a name that matches your Facebook and Instagram handle, be over the age of 18 and “meet minimum activity requirements”. In other words, you have to have actually posted something, presumably so Meta can be confident you won’t be testing your new-found reach with adverts for diet pills, cryptocurrency and viagra.

In other news, Twitter — which has had its Blue verified programme for some time — also announced that SMS two-factor verification (2FA) would soon become a paid feature. The company explained this is a security issue — which is true: SMS hijacking is a thing, and while better than nothing, that form of 2FA is extremely vulnerable. Using a far safer authenticator app or a secure fob would remain free to all, it confirmed.

What the company didn’t explain is why this inherently vulnerable form of 2FA would still be available to premium subscribers. But Twitter being the internet basket case that it is these days, this decision wouldn’t even break the top ten oddest decisions of the Musk era.