Twitter has removed the verification verification icon from the main account of The New York Times, one of CEO Elon Musk’s most hated news outlets.
Twitter has removed the verification verification icon from the main account of The New York Times, one of CEO Elon Musk’s most hated news organizations.
The removal comes as many of Twitter’s high-profile users lose the blue checkmarks that helped verify their identity and distinguish them from imposters on the social media platform.
Musk, the owner of Twitter, set a Saturday deadline for verified users to buy a premium Twitter subscription or lose the checks on their profiles. The Times said in a story Thursday that it does not pay Twitter to verify its corporate accounts.
Earlier Sunday, Musk tweeted that the Times’ check mark would be removed. He later made disparaging comments about the newspaper, which aggressively reported on Twitter and the shortcomings of partially automated driving systems at Tesla, the electric car company he runs.
Other Times accounts, such as its business news and opinion pages, also had blue or gold checkmarks on Sunday, as did many of the news organization’s reporters.
“We do not plan to charge a monthly fee to the Checkmark level for our corporate Twitter accounts,” the Times said in a statement Sunday. Status will be essential for reporting purposes,” the newspaper said in a statement on Sunday.
The Associated Press, which said it would not pay for the check marks, held them in its accounts as of noon Sunday.
Twitter did not respond to questions emailed Sunday about The New York Times’ removal of the check mark.
Costs for holding checkmarks range from $8 per month for individual Internet users to a starting price of $1,000 per month to check a company, plus $50 per month for each affiliate or employee account. Twitter doesn’t verify individual accounts to confirm who they are, the previous blue check was issued to public figures and others during the Musk administration before the platform.
While the cost of Twitter Blue subscriptions may seem like nothing to Twitter’s most popular commentators, famous users from basketball star LeBron James to Star Trek’s William Shatner have been reluctant to join. Seinfeld actor Jason Alexander promised to walk off stage if Musk took his blue check.
The White House is also bypassing enrollment in premium accounts, according to a memo sent to staff. While Twitter has given President Joe Biden and members of his cabinet a free gray identity, lower-level employees won’t get Twitter Blue benefits.
“If you see impersonations that you believe violate Twitter’s stated impersonation policies, please alert Twitter using Twitter’s public impersonation portal,” said a staff memo from White House official Rob Flaherty.
Alexander, the actor, has bigger problems in the world, but without the blue tag, “anyone can accuse me of being me” so if he loses it, he’s gone.
“Anyone who appears with that=a cheater. I will tell you this while I am still official,” he tweeted.
After buying Twitter for $44 billion in October, Musk has been trying to boost the struggling platform’s revenue by pushing more people to premium subscriptions. But his move reflects his insistence that blue verification marks have become an unworthy or “corrupt” status symbol for elites, news reporters and others who were given free verification by Twitter’s previous leadership.
In addition to protecting celebrities from impersonators, one of Twitter’s main reasons for marking profiles with a blue verification icon is to verify politicians, activists and people who suddenly find themselves in the news, as well as lesser-known journalists. Publications Worldwide is an additional tool to prevent misinformation from accounts that impersonate people. Most “legacy blue checks” aren’t household names, and they shouldn’t be.
One of Musk’s first product moves after taking over Twitter was to launch a service that would issue blue checks to anyone willing to pay $8 a month. But it was quickly swamped by fake accounts including Nintendo, pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Musk’s businesses Tesla and SpaceX, so Twitter had to temporarily shut down the service just days after its launch.
The relaunched service will cost $8 a month for web users and $11 for those using its iPhone or Android apps. Subscribers should see fewer ads, be able to post longer videos and have their tweets featured more prominently.