Who’s going to pay $300 a year for Facebook or Instagram? How are Aussie devs making gaming more accessible for the deaf? Vertical Hold Ep 417

Who’s raring to pay Meta $300 per year to get a blue tick on Instagram or Facebook — and why are they charging for features that should be free? How is one Aussie game dev doing their part to make FPS games more accessible to deaf gamers? Special guests Finder’s Angus Kidman and Kotaku Australia’s David Smith!


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Lots of big stories on the show this week, with Meta announcing Meta Verified for Facebook and Instagram — at a steep price. But who’s going to be paying, and what do you get for your money?

Meanwhile, an Australian Games Developer is working on a novel way to make FPS games far more accessible to the deaf — so what else is being done to make gaming inclusive for all?

Special guests Finder’s Angus Kidman and Kotaku Australia’s David Smith!


0:00 Show Intro

1:51 Consumer Gps brand Navman exits the market.

3:43 Skymaster vs. Starlink.

8:28 What is ray tracing audio and how does it work?

11:20 Sectors Edge changing the way games present audio

18:41 The secret word

21:34 Why on earth would you want to be verified on facebook?

27:02 Paying for account support – why isn’t it free?

29:50 Making twitter open-source – is it going to happen?


Angus Kidman

Who’s going to be happy to pay $300 a year for Facebook and Instagram blue ticks?

Alex Kidman

And how is one Aussie Game Dev expanding gaming for the Deaf?

Hi there. Welcome back to Vertical Hold Behind the Tech News, the award-winning tech podcast where we catch up with Australia’s leading tech journalists and commentators to dive into the big tech stories of the week.

I’m Alex Kidman and I seem to have mislaid Adam Turner somewhere. I’m sure he was around you just five minutes ago and now can’t find him anywhere.

Well, look, the clock is ticking.

You’re waiting for a podcast and I’m a fairly lazy man. So I think I’ll just break open the emergency Vertical Hold glass to reveal our spare host. From finder, it’s Angus Kidman.

Angus Kidman

Thanks for letting me out of the glass. I don’t know whether I can bring Adam’s barbecuing skills but I do think I can replicate his old man yelling at clouds energy.

Alex Kidman

Look, I’m just impressed he remembered to put holes in the glass. Last time it was heck of a mess.

Now Gus is actually here to discuss Meta Verified the new paid system that will bring the dreaded — or is it beloved? — Blue Tick to Instagram and Facebook.

I’ll also be catching up with Kotaku’s David Smith directly to talk about how you build a first person shooter that works for people with hearing difficulties.

But first, given that Adam’s not around, I wanted to do something different.

That’s right.

Vertical Hold The Supply Chain episode.

Okay, okay, not that. Adam would kill me.

And he might even still wound me for what I’m about to do.

But we’ll see. Because this week, there were a few smaller tech stories during the rounds that I wanted to get your opinion on Gus, just rapid fire stuff. We’re not going to go super deep on any of these.

So firstly, Venerable GPS brand Navman has announced it’s exiting the Australian Consumer GPS business. Are you surprised?

Angus Kidman

I’m surprised they’re still in the Australian consumer GPS business.

A GPS in these this day and age. If you’ve got a super modern car, it’s built in and annoyingly, you have to get your mechanic to update it. Otherwise, you’re just using your phone. So yeah, I imagine that in like another two years, the only place you’re able to buy a consumer GPS will be during an ALDI special buy sale.

Alex Kidman

I suspect you will also probably spot quite a few of them in op shops just like sitting in a little basket with you know, five bucks each written on them.

But I mean, I’ve got a long history with reviewing these things. I remember at one point back when they were still a very new category, I took like a dozen of them on a drive from Sydney to Adelaide and back and one of them and I’m pretty sure it was a nav man, and they’re exiting the market, so I don’t think they’re gonna sue me anyway, it got really hot, really confused and decided that the best way to get from Adelaide back to Sydney was via Melbourne.

Angus Kidman

Well, you know what, maybe that will be true again, these days as you had to plot out the EV charging stations. Who knows?

Alex Kidman

I suppose that’s possibly true.

Now, flicking over to what would usually be our soup du jour, the NBN.

NBN Co has announced that it’s going to trial faster speeds and sort-of-unlimited downloads for Skymaster satellite customers. What’s the quick story here?

Angus Kidman

So yes, they’re running a trial. It’s across about 10,000 users, I think just through till May this year where they’re going to say yeah, they’re going to effectively say we’re going to have faster speeds still not obviously up to wired speeds, that’s not possible, but also trying to eliminate most of the download caps.

Because this is the thing that people really hate about being on Skymaster. The fact that it feels like you’re stuck in the 1990s with a terrible download cap. So this is a great development. But the suspicion is that it’s partly driven by all the people who said well stuff this I’m getting on to Starlink because that seems like a more reliable alternative.

Alex Kidman

Yeah, and actually, there’s a really interesting contrast this week there because I think NBN Co has claim is that the burst speeds, the top end speeds for these Skymaster trials will be around 100Mbps, which is not bad for satellite to be fair, and certainly for satellites in that kind of orbit.

Starlink is a bit lower, it’s a bit closer and therefore a bit faster. And Ookla came out with their figures for Starlink in Australia this week, suggesting an average of 106Mbps — so just that little bit faster than Skymaster can manage.

Do you think that’s you know, is that going to work out well for Elon Musk’s beloved satellites?

Angus Kidman

Well, I think the reality is that lots of people can’t afford to pay for Starlink.

So they’re going to welcome this. I also think what sort of regional Australians would like to pay a local ISP and don’t like the idea of some weirdo tech billionaire taking stuff over.

So we will see but I mean, certainly anything that could make satellite services better for more people, no one’s going to complain about it. So let’s hope the trial works, and NBN doesn’t come up with some new weird variation on CVC, so it can ruin the experience for regional users in a new and different way. That still seems somehow reassuringly familiar.

Alex Kidman

And finally, it’s been really, really hot and humid lately, I could really go a swim. But as you know I don’t have a pool in my backyard. But my neighbours, about three or four doors down do, according to Google Maps.

And there’s a new app in town, which is sort of the Airb&b for your pool. It’s called Swimply. I don’t believe you’re a pool owner, either, Gus. But did you reckon the idea of renting your personal backyard pool out to strangers is a good one?

Angus Kidman

So firstly, I can’t get behind anything that’s going to call itself Swimply.

That’s just not acceptable.

Secondly, I can see that if you’re someone who’s got a big expensive backyard with a large pool, and you know, perhaps an accessible outdoor bathroom where people can get changed and do the necessary, yeah, that’s an expensive thing to run. So you might welcome the opportunity to say, hey, I can rent this out for a few hours.

Fundamentally, I think if you own that kind of house, you’re part of the problem not part of the solution. So I’m not really sure that I can endorse this.

But it demonstrates that we haven’t reached the end of rent-out-anything capitalism. But like most of these ideas, I suspect it’s doomed to fail, because I just don’t know that it will get sufficient scale, or that the people who own those kinds of pools really want to let the riffraff in.

Alex Kidman

Yeah, look, I  figure you know, that headline, you know, “Airbnb party ruined my investment property” has been done to death. But the first time a huge crowd of people turn up to just completely wreck someone’s pool. That’s going to be the end of the model, isn’t it?

Angus Kidman

Yeah, you would  think so. But look, it’ll be some great fodder for A Current Affair.

Alex Kidman

It will indeed. Now we should get on to the big story of the week, which is Meta Verified and blue ticks.

But first, I caught up with David Smith from Kotaku to talk about what one Australian Game Dev is doing to make first person shooters more accessible for the deaf.

I’m a man who loves technology, as I think most of you know, but I’m particularly a man who loves assistive technology when you can take technology and use it to make something better for people or make people’s lives better.

In the gaming space, this takes a whole bunch of different forms, in things like Microsoft’s really interesting adaptive controller, for example. And this week, a story popped up on Kotaku Australia, which really grabbed my attention. I’m joined by the Australian editor of Kotaku and the writer of that piece. David Smith. David, welcome back to the show,

David Smith

Mate. Thank you for having me.

Alex Kidman

You’re more than welcome, more than welcome.

So in this case, we’re talking about first person shooters, a very well established category, lots of explosions, lots of noise, lots of noise everywhere.

In recent times, of course, that noise is really important in terms of working out where that rocket is coming from. And you’ve written a story about a kind of unique approach to this, a first-person shooter that pays attention to the fact that some of its players might not be able to hear those rockets coming.

David Smith

Yeah, yeah. This came up sort of — I found this on Twitter, funnily enough, in amongst all the noise on Twitter at the moment — this little game from Sydney, as a matter of fact, called Sectors Edge.

It’s in beta at the moment, it’s sort of an old school, multiplayer arena shooter kind of like, yeah, your Quake 3 or your Unreal Tournament.

Alex Kidman 

I’m already sold!

David Smith

I know right? Like, guys our age, this is just like it’s nectar.

It’s catnip, I love it, we’re already in.

But it goes a step further as exactly as you say, there is this accessibility option that is currently being worked on, it’s not been added to the game, just yet, the team is still working on it.

The team is called Vercidium.

They’re based in Sydney, it’s a team of two brothers. And they are currently working on this game. So what they’re doing with this accessibility feature, what they’re doing is they’re using ray tracing to visually display sound in the game, this is going to be a challenge to describe…

Alex Kidman

Just to interrupt you for a second. And I realized it can be a challenge to describe because it’s a podcast and gaming is a visual medium. But for the non gamers out there. Can you give a quick explanation of ray tracing?

David Smith

Yeah, sure.

So Ray tracing is a relatively new technology within the gaming space, mostly at this stage used for realistic lighting.

It’s a method for creating, in particular, realistic bounce lighting.

If I’ve got my window open next to me and the sunlight is coming in, the sun will bounce off, say a green Stanley knife, and that will create a green glow off the side of the green Stanley knife.

This is something that’s been very, very difficult to do in games without sort of a lot of sort of smoke and mirrors if you like.

And now through ray tracing, we can do it more or less in real time.

It’s a really interesting technology, still fairly early on, but we’re doing amazing things with it.

And it’s really changing the way games look.

Vercidium have sort of flipped it, if you like,  they’re looking at it as a method for drawing sound.

In game, the way I would describe this system as it’s been sort of implemented into Sector’s Edge.

Imagine, it’s almost like a heat map, you can see different colours — green, yellow, and red — to determine how loud a sound is, and its proximity to you.

So if someone is getting close to you, or if they’re firing their gun, and they’re coming down a hallway towards you, there will be a growing red blob in and around the level that will almost be like a shock wave moving through the level towards you.

And as the shock wave approaches, you will see the little character run out and there they will be. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen as far as an accessibility feature goes.

There’s been some really interesting changes in the accessibility space, particularly among triple A games like The Last of Us, God of War, things like that PlayStation in particular have been doing great things with accessibility recently.

You mentioned Xbox’s Accessibility Controller. Playstation has got one coming as well. Project Leonardo, I believe it’s called.

This, however, is like a big swing, particularly in the indie space, the indie space is full of great accessibility as well. This, it feels like something totally different.

I’ve actually, I’m trying to put together an interview with these with these guys at the moment, I’d love to talk to them more about what they’re working on.

At this stage, you can play Sectors Edge, I believe at sectors edge.com, you can go to the website and download the beta and play it.

This audio functionality is not in the beta version just yet.

The boys are still working on it, they made that very clear to me. But it will be coming very, very soon, you can follow these guys on the Vercidium out on Twitter.

And you can actually see it for yourself. They’re posting a lot of little videos, short clips of this raytraced audio technology that they’re working on in motion, and you’ll get a really good idea of what they’re doing, how it can be implemented, and how it will be really, really beneficial for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

I myself don’t have great hearing. I said in even in the piece, I have what doctors would refer to as crap hearing. To be honest, this is something that would be really, really helpful for me.

I’m interested to see how it can be applied to a competitive shooter like this, because I can see how people who maybe aren’t necessarily deaf or hard of hearing could use it to gain an advantage.

But that’s to an extent almost beside the point when it says when it makes the game as accessible as this to an audience that would ordinarily not really be able to get much out of a game like this because they can’t hear other players, other enemies in proximity to them. I think it’s worth exploring and clearly so these guys do too, as well.

Yeah, I’m really impressed. So I wrote the piece on it that went up yesterday. You can check that out on Kotaku Australia.

Alex Kidman

You mentioned accessibility being a big thing for Sony, for Microsoft, for Triple A game production. And looking at the demo of this it looks really cool. And it is one of those ideas where I look at it, and I just go, ‘that feels obvious, but obviously not trivial to implement’. What kind of, if any, what kind of similar systems have people tried to use?

David Smith

Well, I mean, there’s sort of different schools of thought on it.

Like Fortnite, for instance, is a is a competitive shooter that is trying to implement audio options as well. The way Fortnite does that, if you imagine a radial menu, a big circle in the centre of the screen.

And when a sound occurs somewhere in the game on that radius, you’ll it will appear essentially in the game whenever a sound pops off of gunshot or something like that. And I’ll give you a broad idea of what direction that sound came from. And the proximity to you.

It’s not precise, the key is this, what Vercidium is working on is very precise.

What Epic is implemented in a Fortnite is less so I think, to try and preserve that competitive edge.

You have lots of other things as well. I know in plenty of sort of single player games like God of War, for instance, there’s a lot of audio options to sort of denote who is speaking at any given time. You have the ability to sort of separate different characters by colour. You might have good characters in green on screen, evil characters in red, that kind of thing just to make it clearer to people who can’t necessarily hear or see so well what exactly is going on at any given moment.

And these have been evolving over the last five years in particular, there’s been a massive explosion in accessibility features like this. And it’s really, really cool to see so much innovation still coming through in the space. We obviously have a lot of work to do. There’s a long way to go, ever more perfect things are constantly being worked on.

But yeah, this in particular and seeing it come from a Sydney studio, a couple of local boys is really really cool. Like, yeah, another great example of like how imaginative and really quite brilliant the Australian Game Dev scene is.

Alex Kidman

It is amazing work. And actually, if you do go and watch their little demo of the of their raytraced audio, you cannot miss the fact that they’re Australian, they’re about as Ocker sounding as it’s possible to be without falling into caricature.

David Smith

They’re good boys

Alex Kidman

They are. It’s excellent work. As I said in the intro, I really do love this kind of approach that says that technology, that life, even entertainment and games are entertainment, should be for absolutely everyone.

We should try and envelop as many people as we possibly can. So it’ll be really, really great to see how this one develops.

As you said, it’s in it’s in open beta at the moment, and I don’t think there is a timeframe for actually deploying as a full product?

David Smith

Not at this stage. No, they’re still very much working on it

Everyone’s more than welcome to go and download the beta, play it, enjoy it, see what they think provide their feedback.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing players are invited to get in touch with them and provide feedback on a working version of this software.

So if you are deaf or hard of hearing, please feel free to reach out to them. As a as I said earlier in the pod you can you can find them on Twitter, you can find their contact details even through the Sector’s Edge website when you head on over.

Alex Kidman

Sounds awesome. David, thank you so much for your time.

But before I let you go, you’ve been on the show before you know what you’re about to face the Vertical Hold Three questions of doom.

I will ask all three and then you may answer them in any order you wish. Although everyone always seems to answer them in the order. I asked them —  funny that.

In any case: Where can people find your work online? Where can they find you on social media? And our current big contentious questions du jour relates relates to advice. So as a games journalist, what’s one piece of games advice you’d want to give to consumers?

David Smith

Oh boy. You can find me on Kotaku Australia. It’s a video games website. That’s kotaku.com.au.

You can find me on social media. I am @rhunwords on pretty much everything.

What advice would I give to consumers about video games?

You know what, we’ve been talking about accessibility. Let’s focus on that again.

Even if you’re not deaf or hard of hearing, you have no problems with your vision, you have full mobility in your hands. There is nothing wrong with opening up accessibility options when you buy a new game, particularly if it’s a complex, triple A game.

There are ways and means of making the experience more tailored to you. And that’s ultimately what it’s all about. If you find yourself banging your head against the part of a game that you feel is too hard,  look through the accessibility options.

There might be something in there that can make that work a little better for you. Remove button mashing, something like that. There’s lots of little tweaks we can make now. And there’s a lot of people that just don’t go looking for these things. That would be my advice to consumers looking to pick up video games. Consider that.

Alex Kidman

That is great advice because making a game more fun for yourself is never a bad idea.

David Smith

Right? They’re supposed to be fun. Let’s enjoy them.

Alex Kidman

Thanks so much for your time, David,

David Smith 

Of course, anytime.

Alex Kidman

The secret word for this week is Otter.

That’s right, Otter.

But that doesn’t do you too much good.

Because we don’t actually do a secret word.

What will do you good if you’re enjoying the show, however, is to subscribe to Vertical Hold.

You can do that on your podcast platform of choice by searching up Vertical Hold or by going on the web to verticalhold.com.au. We’ve got handy podcast subscription buttons for every single platform. And now back to the show.

Alex Kidman

So Gus, I think most of our listeners know what a blue tick is in the context of Twitter and how indeed contentious the blue tick has become in recent months. Now Mark Zuckerberg wants to get in on the game with meta verified. So what’s meta verified exactly?

Angus Kidman

So meta verified is the chance to pay so that either your Facebook profile or your Instagram profile because both those services are owned by meta so that it also has a blue tick, which verifies that you are indeed who you say you are.

So far, so Twitter, so Elon Musk in late 2022.

Now actually, there always has been a Blue Tick on Facebook and Instagram, but most people don’t notice them. It just hasn’t been as visible.

And this is partly because I think we don’t tend to interact so much with famous people on Facebook. And partly because when you do you don’t normally interact with that person’s actual Facebook account.

You interact with a page, which is a separate and different thing.

But possibly tempted by the fact that, you know, Twitter got away with this, we now have this new model where you’re going to, you can pay to say, Okay, you will get verified, you actually have to upload documents to prove who you are.

And then after paying a fairly princely sum, which we’ll get on to, you can then have this blue tick that appears, and this A,  shows that you’re verified, B, will apparently make you show up in search results a little bit more often and C will get you faster access to support if anything goes wrong. So there’s a few things included there. But it’s really not cheap, is it?

Alex Kidman

Well,  no.

So they’re actually launching it, I don’t think they said they’re launching it in trial, but effectively, they are launching it in trial in Australia, New Zealand from next week. And it’s going to set you back $19.99 Australian, a month, if you sign up on the web, or $24.99, if you sign up on a smartphone.

My assumption there is that the higher price is because of the 30% cut that Google or Apple want via an app.

But is there much indication that in fact, no, Zuckerberg really is that greedy? And if you want to use Facebook and Instagram from your phone, even if you signed up on the web, you’re going to have to pay the extra?

Angus Kidman

No, we haven’t, the details aren’t super clear.

But I think the suggestion is basically, you know, the reason they’re doing that is because they will get slugged with that fee by Apple or by Google anyway.

So the underlying message is, if you are the person who wants to do this, do it on the web, because you’ll have to be signing up for 20 bucks a month, in that case, and as far as I can tell, it will be the same service.

But that’s still a lot, that’s still an expensive prospect. So it does raise the question of why on earth would you want to do this.

And I think the reality is, I don’t think this is a Facebook play, because I just don’t think on Facebook, this matters.

No one cares much as an individual about being verified a bit on Facebook.

But if you’re an influencer, this could be super important to you, if a lot of people have tried to impersonate you, if you’re a bit worried about your visibility, you might say, hey, I’m willing to pay the 20 bucks a month, just to get that Instagram visibility.

And that’s my guess as to where they’re really playing to,  they’re going, there will be people who say I either want that, or I want access to the support services.

It’s no secret that getting on to support for any Meta product is really, really painful. There’s probably enough people who might be willing to give this a shot. But maybe it’ll be a little bit of a revenue shot in the arm for meta, which, you know, could always use more money. It’s a listed company, they all want more cash.

Alex Kidman

Yeah, well, I mean, I think we even talked about it in a recent episode, they have haemorrhaged quite a bit of money, following Apple blocking cross-app tracking and things like that. So I’m sure Zuckerberg does want more. Now that costing though that is that is meta verified. So it’s across Facebook, and Instagram, because Instagram is not really a very web friendly product, is it?

Angus Kidman

It’s not. You can interact with it on there, it does exist. And maybe that’s still what I’d still be if I was doing this, which to be clear, I am not I would be doing I would still you can still log onto Instagram on the web.

And I would do that just to avoid that fee. But even so if you’ve got it spread across there, let’s say you’re being sensible. That means in Australia, you’re paying 240 bucks a year, I think for that to be worthwhile, you do have to feel like part of your income is coming from those sources.

I just don’t think it makes sense that anybody else. And the inevitable question is maybe, does that make sense for scammers?

Like do they think there’s enough money in doing this? Because this is what we saw happen with Twitter, obviously, we know that as soon as they said, Oh, you can pay for blue tick, people were racing onto there to sort of steal the opportunity. So how that plays out? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Alex Kidman

So their defense against that it seems to stop me for example, you know, declaring that suddenly I am Nicole Kidman on Instagram, for example, is that you have to upload a government ID.

You have to scan your driver’s license or your passport or whatever, and send it into Facebook.

And the moment I read that the alarm bells just started going off in my head.

Cambridge Analytica, Facebook, you know, having more of our data and not being terribly secure with it. Am I just being paranoid?

Angus Kidman

No, I don’t think you’re being paranoid. I think that’s perfectly sensible.

Obviously, they want some protections, I don’t think they can just they can’t afford for you to just put on a red curly wig and then pretend you’re Nicole Kidman, that’s going to cause all sorts of comments and frankly, a certain amount of nausea.

But I do think yes, I would really want to think twice about  — do I want to share this information with Facebook?

Do I really trust what you’re going to do with it? I guess again, if you’re feeling like the Facebook and Instagram are commercial properties for you, you’re probably going to put up with that.

You’ve probably already given them various other bits of information. So there will be plenty of people who don’t think about that, I think but I do feel like this is this is not a product for the everyday.

This is not something that’s going to affect most people, and crucially, it only affects those individual accounts. So if you’re a business on Facebook, you can’t use it.

If you’ve set up a page or you’re running a group, it doesn’t apply to any of that.

And when I’ve been chatting about this on radio and various TV media during the week, that’s always what they worry about. They seem to go ‘how’s this going to affect the way I interact with my school mates, or way I hang out in my local community Facebook group, and there’s no indication that any of that is going to change.

Fundamentally, the main product for Facebook and for Instagram is still advertising. And they get you in front of the advertising by maximizing your attention. They can’t afford to make themselves paid for, in this way for everybody, because they would just haemorrhage users, we already know that they have a problem with haemorrhaging younger users so that they need to do a balancing act.

Hence, I think trying it out in Australia and New Zealand, which are still as far as Facebook is concerned, runt markets where it can do what it likes, and with no consequences.

And we’ve seen that with Facebook plenty of times, most infamously when they said, Oh, well, we’ll just cut off news assets in Australia. Like they happily did that for a week with no concern. So yeah, we are very much the experimental lab rats, you know, having our tails chopped off at this moment.

Alex Kidman

Well, I’m thinking about that visibility and reach question. We’ve seen just recently over on the Twitter side of the fence, that Twitter owner Elon Musk got his knickers in a twist about not being visible enough, and made tweaks to the algorithm such that apparently, everyone who was looking at the For You feed just got like an uninterrupted Elon stream, and not much else now.

Fair play, he owns the service. It’s his sandbox, he can do what he likes. But one of the things that meta verified is promising is this idea of increased visibility and reach.

Does this mean that alongside all the sponsored ads, I am suddenly going to start seeing a whole bunch of influencers and meta verified people who basically paid for what amounts to advertising?

Angus Kidman

I would assume so yeah, I think I think you can expect to see more of that. You would hope that they will apply some degree of all the other things that they know about you from all the things you’ve said in the past, to maybe try and do a match up. And to be fair, I feel like there’s probably more people on Instagram, in particular for them to pick through when they’re trying to make those sorts of decision.

But absolutely, if they’re promising a higher degree of visibility, then we can expect that to impact what everyday users experience from the service. Again, the proof will really be once this launches, if we start noticing those changes.

One of those perennial subjects that comes up in the Instagram world a lot, is this idea of shadow banning, where people believe that their stuff is just not visible, but it’s really hard to prove, because you never know what anyone else is seeing.

And I’m sure they’re going to be consultants saying, Oh, the way to get around a shadow ban, unfortunately, is to pay. So some people are going to try that out. So absolutely, it’s going to get a bit messy.

Alex Kidman

The other thing that they’re promising with meta verified, and you did mention this briefly, was access to account support and enhanced security. And as part of my brain that just says, well hang on some of this stuff, especially where it relates to personal data to somewhat private data where you still want to necessarily socialize with people or be on Instagram or whatever. Shouldn’t all that stuff be free?  Shouldn’t that just be assumed?

Angus Kidman

You would like to think so. But I think we’ve seen how much social media services are willing to devolve their responsibility there, try and put it on the chat bots, try and put it on to all send a mail here, and maybe you’ll get lucky.

And again, it feels like maybe Zuckerberg is taking a bit of inspiration from Elon Musk here, because this week, we’ve also seen Musk say, right, if you want to use text based 2FA to sign into Twitter, or to secure your Twitter account, you have to be a verified member, then you have to be a Twitter blue member and actually pay for it.

You can still authenticate yourself into twitter using an authentication app, which is what most people would do. It’s what I’d advise doing, because I don’t want Twitter to have my phone number at all, because I certainly don’t trust what they’re going to do with it in the future.

But the fact remains that this just demonstrates again, that, you know, basically social media businesses feel like they can get away with charging for something that should fundamentally be free and short of regulation, I can’t see that changing.

And regulation of course is local, not global. So as gross as it is for them to be saying, Hey, you can only get good support, if you’re paying for it. It’s the reality that they can get away with it. And so they’re going to try and get away with it.

Alex Kidman

Or just briefly on the Twitter two factor authentication, I fell into that bucket, I had that set up. And and I’m not a Twitter blue subscriber. I’ve never had a blue tick, in fact, as regular listeners will know.

But the funny thing that struck me there is they’re saying you have to pay for the authentication method that pretty much any security expert would tell you is the worst security authentication method.

An authenticator app or other methods are more secure. SMS can be spoofed.

Angus Kidman

Yeah, SMS can be spoofed. And there’s a well developed criminal behaviour around getting your actual number transferred to another sim, at which point you’ve got no access. So absolutely. It is. It’s sort of ironic that that method, and in some ways because it was the first method,  like before, because it’s the oldest 2FA method.

There’s probably some rusted on Twitter users where that’s what they did, and they think it will maybe I don’t want to change that. But so it’s odd. It doesn’t make any sense. But Elon making a decision around Twitter not making any sense is not surprising. It’s literally Tuesday.

Alex Kidman

Well, by the time it’s next week, apparently to say on the Elon topic, and just because I think he wanted a little bit of attention instead of Mark Zuckerberg. he’s also said that he wants to make Twitter open source. Nothing’s going to go wrong there, is it?

Angus Kidman

Nothing’s going to go wrong there because it’s not going to happen. This is thought bubble 101.

Alex Kidman

I think this is about thought bubble 677 by now – he keeps having these thought bubbles

Angus Kidman

It’s right up there. I have no doubt that a lot of the underlying infrastructure that Twitter is really is running on is using open source components anyway, because everybody does. The notion that they would unveil the entire stack and then the people would think, oh, this is a good model and we’re going to, you know, try and support that just seems to me to be really, really unlikely.

The cynical side of me says , well, if you open source it, you’re hoping to get free engineering expertise from other people. But I don’t know how disposed the engineering community in general is to say hey, we’re going to go and help out Elon.

So if it happened, i don’t think it would work. But honestly, I think in a fortnight’s time, he’ll be just like, oh no, I didn’t mean that.

That was just a joke. I was just trolling.

Alex Kidman

He does this an awful lot.  Putting my kind of evil capitalist hat on for a second. It strikes me that financially Twitter’s in a lot of trouble or at least Elon Musk is because of the amount he’s got to pay on his loans, we’ve gone over that in previous episodes, people can go back and listen to that.

Facebook obviously isn’t doing anywhere as well because the metaverse seems to be just dying and Facebook is not making as much money because of Apple’s changes. They’re both trying this whole paid verification thing and certainly neither of us think it’s going to take off like a rocket ship —  but these services do cost money to maintain and run.

What is the viable model here? Is there one?

Angus Kidman

The important distinction to draw here is that while Facebook is not expanding the way that shareholders would like, Facebook makes money. Facebook is profitable, Twitter is not.

So, there’s a simple thing there, where one of them is just going to fall away because there isn’t an ongoing business model

There is a business model for facebook and i honestly don’t think this verification is a big part of it. It remains that attention piece, how sustainable is that as a business for years and years? I don’t know. This comes back to something we discussed right the top of the episode.

It’s possible that social media is the GPS. It was impossible to imagine for 15 years that you couldn’t have it. But maybe in 15 years we’ll all go, oh wow, we all used to do that. Isn’t that amazing? We’ll be looking back on fondly the same way that we look back on Video Ezy right now.

Alex Kidman

Well, that just about wraps up another episode of Vertical Hold. Thanks to Gus for joining me.

Angus Kidman

Pleasure to be Adam

Alex Kidman

And Adam,  now it’s time for the… no wait.

He’s never faced the Vertical Hold Three Questions of Doom.

You have faced the Vertical Hold Three Questions of Doom.

You know what you’re about to face. You know that I’m about to say all three of them and you can answer them in any order you like, but please let me actually get through them first.

So where can people find your work online? Where can they find you on any given social media platform, verified or not? And as we’re on a bit of an advice kick at the moment, our special big contentious question for you, what’s the one bit of tech advice you’d give to consumers above all others.

Angus Kidman

Okay, so people can find my work online at finder.com.au. You can find the on Twitter at @gusworldau,  where I have one of the old blue ticks, which means I got it when they were free and now it says, it’s not really sure whether I mean anything or not.

So I think the bit of tech advice, I would give people… because it has gone out of fashion and out of favour is read the manual. Often people do not bother…

Alex Kidman

There’s a manual?

Angus Kidman

There’s often a manual. Often you have to go online, often it’s a PDF, but there’s this absolute thing, where products have leaned into this idea of ‘we’ll just let you get started’.

The fact is that for almost any tech product with any degree of complexity,  spending some time reading up on a learning how it works will give you a better idea how to use it, and a better idea how to troubleshoot it, and it’s better to have that knowledge stored away I think before things start to go wrong. So I’m going to say RTFM is underrated advice and more people should get into it.

Alex Kidman

Sound advice, not necessarily a family-friendly acronym, but sound advice nonetheless.

And as always you can catch us online @verticalholdau on Twitter, via the Vertical Hold Facebook page or on the web at www.verticalhold.com.au.

And as Adam would usually say at this time, thanks to everyone for listening in. Don’t forget to drop us a line and tell us what you love about the show as well as what we could do better in 2023.

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About Us

Award-winning Australian technology news podcast Vertical Hold: Behind The Tech News dives into the big stories of the week. Joined by Australia’s leading tech journalists every Friday, co-hosts @adam_turner and @alexkidman channel-surf through the headlines in search of the big picture. About/Contact us