Twitter has stripped the New York Times of the blue tick verification check mark as many other high-profile users are set to follow suit if they fail to pay for the check marks that helped verify their identity and distinguish them from imposters on the social media platform.
Twitter began removing verification badges from accounts which already had a blue tick, after announcing they would be part of a paid subscription from 1 April.
Early Sunday, Musk tweeted that the Times’ check mark would be removed. Later he posted disparaging remarks about the newspaper, which has aggressively reported on flaws with partially automated driving systems at Tesla, the electric car company, which he also runs.
“The real tragedy of @NYTimes is that their propaganda isn’t even interesting”, Mr Musk, who owns Twitter, wrote on the platform.
“Also, their feed is the Twitter equivalent of diarrhoea. It’s unreadable,” he added.
Under Twitter’s new rules, blue ticks will start to be removed from accounts which do not pay for pay a monthly fee of $1,000 for a gold verification tick, while individual accounts must pay $8 a month for a blue one.
Other Times accounts such as its business news and opinion pages still had either blue or gold check marks on Sunday, as did multiple reporters for the news organization.
“We aren’t planning to pay the monthly fee for check mark status for our institutional Twitter accounts,” the Times said in a statement Sunday. “We also will not reimburse reporters for Twitter Blue for personal accounts, except in rare instances where this status would be essential for reporting purposes,” the newspaper said in a statement Sunday.
The Associated Press, which has said it also will not pay for the check marks, still had them on its accounts at midday Sunday.
The White House is also passing on enrolling in premium accounts, according to a memo sent to staff. While Twitter has granted a free grey mark for President Joe Biden and members of his Cabinet, lower-level staff won’t get Twitter Blue benefits unless they pay for it themselves.
After buying Twitter for $44 billion in October, Musk has been trying to boost the struggling platform’s revenue by pushing more people to pay for a premium subscription. But his move also reflects his assertion that the 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.