Facebook and Instagram to follow Twitter with new charges announced for two-factor authentication

Meta has announced that Facebook and Instagram users will soon have to pay to be verified on social media platforms.

With the announcement that Twitter is taking away SMS two-factor authentication for non-paying users on March 19, Mark Zuckerberg has taken Elon Musk’s lead, with more platforms set to follow.

In a Facebook post on Sunday, Zuckerberg, Meta’s chief executive, said the service would first roll out in Australia and New Zealand later this week, with costs of US$11.99 per month on web and US$14.99 on iOS and Android.

Meta will rely on government ID documents to prove the identity of verified accounts. All accounts must have a posting history and users must be at least 18 years old.

The service is not available to businesses at this stage.

What is the impact of this change?

For paid subscribers, Zuckerberg says the service will offer “extra impersonation protection”, improved reach for verified users and direct access to customer support. It will also offer “exclusive stickers” on Facebook and Instagram stories and Facebook reels.

Meta have said the change will not affect previously verified accounts and that the increased visibility of posts from these users will “depend on a subscriber’s existing audience size and the topic of their posts”. There will be an increase in visibility for some smaller users who become verified thanks to the paid feature.

Twitter restricts SMS Two-Factor Authentication

Twitter also announced on Friday that it would be charging non-paying users for SMS-based two-factor authentication. Only users who are subscribed to the US$8-a-month ($11.65) Twitter Blue service will be able to use this service for free from 20 March. The company currently provides free two-factor authentication through third-party apps and a security key, both of which are considered more secure than SMS-based systems.

Why does this matter?

The move by Meta and Twitter has sparked concerns that it could lead to widespread hacks on accounts next month if they fail to switch over. Fortunately, SMS two-factor authentication isn’t the only way to secure a social media account, and there are several other methods still available for free.

Authenticator apps such as Authy, Google Authenticator, and Microsoft Authenticator, typically generate one-time passwords (OTP) in the app, that change after a short period of time. This solution is safer as it is harder for hackers to gain access to the device where the authenticator app has been installed.

Security keys, are one of the safest forms of two-factor authentication because the key itself verifies the service as valid to help prevent phishing, but you’ll need to purchase a piece of hardware that you insert or connect wirelessly to your phone or computer. This key verifies your identity when logging into your account.


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