An anonymous reader shares a report from Mashable, written by Kerry Flynn: "I mean if Mashable wants to pay for it, I can get you a blue check over night," reads a recent Twitter direct message. This is a guy who knows a guy, a middleman in the black market for Instagram verification, where anyone from a seasoned publicist to a 22-year-old digital marketer will offer to verify an account -- for a price. The fee is anywhere from a bottle of wine to $15,000, according to a dozen sources who have sold verification, bought verification for someone else, or directly know someone who has done one or the other. "These guys pay all their bills from one to two blue checks a month," another message from the middleman added later. The product for sale isn't a good or a service. It's a little blue check designated for public figures, celebrities, and brands on Instagram. It grants users a prime spot in search as well as access to special features. More importantly, it's a status symbol. But it's clear from people who spoke on the condition of anonymity, many of whom have their own blue checkmarks, that a black market for Instagram verification is alive and well. "Instagram has helped create this underground market," the report adds. "While anyone can apply for verification on Facebook and on Twitter, Instagram has made itself exclusive and therefore rather elitist. Influencers who have press clippings and work with big brands on sponsorship deals often can't manage to get that elusive blue checkmark, according to several verified and unverified influencers and people who have sold verification."
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