Twitter removed the verification check mark from The New York Times’ main account, one of CEO Elon Musk’s most hated news companies.
Several high-profile Twitter users are preparing for the loss of the blue check marks that verified their identity and distinguished them from impostors.
Musk, who owns Twitter, gave verified users until Saturday to pay a premium Twitter membership or lose their profile checks—the Times said Thursday that it would not pay Twitter for institutional account verification.
Musk tweeted Sunday morning that the Times’ check mark was deleted. Later, he criticized the newspaper, which has aggressively reported on Twitter and Tesla’s partially autonomous driving systems, which he oversees.
Many Times reporters and its business news and opinion sections received blue or gold check marks on Sunday.
“We aren’t intending to pay the monthly price for check mark status for our institutional Twitter accounts,” the Times said Sunday. “We also will not refund reporters for Twitter Blue for personal accounts, save in exceptional circumstances when this status would be crucial for reporting,” the newspaper announced Sunday.
Around lunchtime, Sunday, the Associated Press, which would not pay for the check marks, nevertheless had them on its accounts.
Sunday emails concerning The New York Times checkmark removal were unanswered by Twitter.
Keeping the check marks costs $8 per month for individual web users and $1,000 per month to verify a corporation, plus $50 for each affiliate or employee account. But, as with the pre-Musk blue check given to prominent leaders and others, Twitter does not verify individual accounts.
Among other celebrities, LeBron James and William Shatner have declined Twitter Blue memberships. Likewise, if Musk removes his blue check, Jason Alexander will depart the platform.
A staff document states that the White House would not enroll in premium accounts. Instead, lower-level personnel must pay for Twitter Blue, while President Joe Biden and his Cabinet receive a free gray mark.
“If you notice impersonations that you feel violate Twitter’s stated impersonation policy, report Twitter via Twitter’s public impersonation portal,” read the staff letter from White House staffer Rob Flaherty.
Alexander, the actor, said there are greater crises in the world, but without the blue mark, “anyone can pretend to be me,” and he’s gone.
“Imposters with it. “While official,” he tweeted.
Musk has been seeking to increase premium subscriptions on Twitter since purchasing it for $44 billion in October. His action also reflects his belief that the blue verification marks have become an unjustified or “corrupt” status symbol for elite individuals, news reporters, and others allowed free verification by Twitter’s previous administration.
Twitter started marking profiles with a blue check mark about 14 years ago to verify politicians, activists, and people who suddenly find themselves in the news, as well as little-known journalists at small publications around the world, to combat misinformation from impersonators. But, unfortunately, most “legacy blue checks” were never meant to be famous.
After taking over Twitter, Musk launched an $8-a-month blue check service. Unfortunately, Twitter had to suspend the service days after its introduction because imposter accounts spoofed Nintendo, Eli Lilly, Tesla, and SpaceX.
The new service costs $8 monthly for online users and $11 for iPhone and Android app users. Subscribers should see less advertising, submit longer videos, and have their tweets highlighted.