Meta Verified, a subscription service offered by Facebook that provides users with a verification badge, has come under fire from sex workers and other privacy advocates. The service requires users to use their legal name as their profile display name without the option to change it, raising concerns about safety and privacy.

While users are offered additional perks in addition to the verification badge, such as direct account support, proactive impersonation protection, and exclusive stickers for Facebook and Instagram, the requirement for users to use their legal name has been met with criticism.

Sex workers, trans creators, and privacy advocates have expressed concerns that the use of legal names puts vulnerable groups at risk. Sex worker educator and adult content creator Pomma, also known as Blair Bishop, has stated that the current political climate, with the war on porn and the war on trans people, makes the use of legal names particularly unsafe.

The application process for verification requires users to provide a selfie video and government-issued photo ID to confirm their identity. However, the service also requires users’ display names to match the name on their ID, causing confusion among users.

While the application states that verified users can only change their name or profile photo if they cancel their subscription, make changes, and subscribe again, it does not explicitly state that the name the user submitted will be their profile display name.

The backlash against Meta Verified’s ID requirements echoes that of Facebook’s infamous real name policy, which the platform implemented in 2014. Facebook’s real name policy required flagged users to verify that they were using their real names by submitting their ID, which didn’t necessarily reflect the users’ chosen name.

While Facebook eventually allowed flagged users to explain their situation before they were suspended and to use non-government documents like library cards and diplomas to prove their identity, sex workers have questioned why Meta Verified’s identity verification options are so limited.

While being verified can be beneficial, allowing users to take down impersonators and catfish accounts, revealing legal names is risky, and sex workers have expressed concerns that the requirement puts vulnerable groups at risk.

However, verified users have also reported an increase in engagement on Instagram, with some users experiencing a 131% increase in accounts reached and a nearly 60% increase in engagement after verification.

For now, Meta Verified users must use their legal name, and the service’s identity verification options remain limited. However, the backlash against the ID requirements is likely to continue, and Meta may face pressure to provide users with more privacy options.

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