The move comes after Twitter owner Elon Musk made disparaging comments about the newspaper.
Twitter has removed the verification verification icon from the main account of The New York Times, one of Twitter CEO Elon Musk’s most reviled news outlets.
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 posted disparaging comments about the newspaper, which aggressively reported on Twitter and the shortcomings of partially automated driving systems at Tesla, the electric car company run by Musk.
Other Times accounts, including those on its business news and opinion pages, had blue or gold checkmarks as of Sunday, as did many of the news organization’s reporters.
“We do not plan to charge a monthly fee for Checkmark Status for our corporate Twitter accounts,” the Times said in a statement Sunday. “Except in rare cases, we do not reimburse reporters for Twitter Blue for personal accounts, when this position is necessary for reporting purposes,” the newspaper added.
The Associated Press said it would not pay for the check marks, which showed up in its accounts as of noon Sunday.
Twitter did not respond to questions emailed by The Associated Press about The New York Times’ removal of the check mark.
Costs to maintain checking scores range from $8 per month for individual Internet users to a starting price of $1,000 per month for checking with a company, and $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 Twitter Blue subscriptions may seem like nothing to Twitter’s most popular commentators, celebrity users ranging from basketball star LeBron James to Star Trek’s William Shatner have signed up. American sitcom 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 unless they pay for it themselves.
“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, said there are bigger problems in the world, but without the blue tick, “anyone can blame me.”
After buying Twitter for $44bn in October last year, Musk has sought 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 the main reasons for marking Twitter’s profiles with a blue verification mark, starting 14 years ago, was to verify politicians, activists and people who suddenly found themselves in the news, as well as lesser-known journalists. Small publications around the world are an additional tool to prevent misinformation from impersonating accounts. 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.