Twitter has recently removed the blue checkmark from the main account of The New York Times, a popular news organization that is disliked by Tesla and SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk. The move comes as Twitter’s high-profile users are preparing for the loss of blue check marks that have been helping to verify their identity and distinguish them from imposters on the social media platform.
Musk, who owns Twitter, had set a deadline for verified users to purchase a premium Twitter subscription by Saturday, or lose the checks on their profiles. However, The New York Times refused to pay Twitter for verification of its institutional accounts.
Early Sunday, Musk tweeted that the Times’ check mark would be removed and posted disparaging remarks about the newspaper, which has aggressively reported on Twitter flaws with partially automated driving systems at Tesla, which he also runs. The Times’ business news and opinion pages still had either blue or gold check marks on Sunday, as did multiple reporters for the news organization.
While Twitter has granted a free gray mark for President Joe Biden and members of his Cabinet, The White House has also decided not to enroll in premium accounts. Lower-level staff won’t get Twitter Blue benefits unless they pay for it themselves.
Musk has been trying to boost Twitter’s revenue by pushing more people to pay for a premium subscription. He believes that blue verification marks have become an undeserved or “corrupt” status symbol for elite personalities, news reporters, and others granted verification for free by Twitter’s previous leadership. His move also reflects his assertion that the blue check marks have become an undeserved or “corrupt” status symbol for elite personalities, news reporters, and others granted verification for free by Twitter’s previous leadership.
While the cost of Twitter Blue subscriptions may seem trivial for Twitter’s most famous commentators, celebrity users from basketball star LeBron James to Star Trek’s William Shatner have balked at joining. Seinfeld actor Jason Alexander even pledged to leave the platform if Musk takes his blue check away.
One of Musk’s first product moves after taking over Twitter was to launch a service granting blue checks to anyone willing to pay $8 a month. However, the service was quickly inundated by impostor accounts, including those impersonating Nintendo, pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, and Musk’s businesses Tesla and SpaceX. Twitter had to temporarily suspend the service days after its launch. The relaunched service costs $8 a month for web users and $11 a month for users of its iPhone or Android apps. Subscribers are supposed to see fewer ads, be able to post longer videos, and have their tweets featured more prominently.
Twitter’s blue verification marks have served as a tool to curb misinformation coming from accounts that are impersonating people, verifying politicians, activists, and people who suddenly find themselves in the news, as well as little-known journalists at small publications around the globe. The majority of “legacy blue checks” are not household names and were not meant to be.