Instagram is a fun social media site, a never-ending flood of food, sunsets, workouts and joy. But for some, it’s also a business. Millions of dollars go into social media marketing every year, especially Instagram, and Instagram stars desperately covet the blue checkmark that marks them as a “verified” account. So it should come as no surprise that if you know the right people, and have the right amount of money, your Instagram can be verified, too.
Mashable has an in-depth expose of the black market in selling Instagram verification, but in the end, it’s a shockingly simple process that involves who you know, and how much you can pay:
There’s usually an employee at Facebook/Instagram who is willing to take a bribe or just be a friend. A middleman will be the seller. The middleman receives cash, which may or may not be split with the Facebook/Instagram employee. The friend at Facebook/Instagram submits a verification request and crosses their fingers it gets approved.
The black market for verification is an open secret among Instagram influencers. The people who have bought verification might not want to admit it to a reporter, but people aren’t afraid to share to other social media influencers.
In a way, this isn’t a particular surprise. Social media verifications aren’t a legal process, but a private one, and they’re very often opaque. It’s not clear who gets verified or why. Without transparency, inevitably some corruption is going to creep in — especially with something digital that has economic value. Fact is, there’s simply no way to stop it unless social media companies want to openly discuss why some users get verified and others don’t.