Elon Musk revokes ‘verified’ checkmark on New York Times Twitter account after newspaper says it will not pay monthly fee
Twitter has changed the description of the verified checkmarks on its accounts to make “legacy” verified accounts indistinguishable from those of paying subscribers.
Previously, when users clicked on the checkmark of a legacy verified account, a message was displayed reading, “This is a legacy verified account. It may or may not be notable.”
On Sunday the message was changed to read, “This account is verified because it’s subscribed to Twitter Blue or is a legacy verified account,” the same message as for subscribers.
The move comes after owner Elon Musk said he would begin removing the checkmarks from non-paying legacy verified users starting on Saturday, 1 April.
While most legacy verified accounts still had their checkmarks in place after 1 April, Musk did go out of his way to remove the checkmark from the main account of The New York Times, which had said it didn’t plan to pay for a checkmark.
“Oh ok, we’ll take it off then,” Musk wrote in a tweet.
He followed with disparaging remarks about the newspaper, a frequent target of his attacks, saying its feed was “the Twitter equivalent of diarrhea”.
Several other news organisations, including CNN, the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post, still have their checkmarks, although they have also said they don’t plan to pay.
Oh ok, we’ll take it off then
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 2, 2023
Some sections of Times, such as the arts and travel sections, still have the checkmark.
Musk said organisations would be required to pay $1,000 (£810) a month to retain the checkmark, while individuals would have to subscribe to Twitter Blue, which starts at $8 a month.
Some commentators have said it isn’t clear what the checkmark now represents, since it is given to any paying individual or organisation.
Initially the checkmark was intended to indicate that the account of a high-profile individual or organisation was authentic.
The Washington Post cited former employees as saying it may take some time to remove legacy checkmarks, since the process is largely manual.
The Times had earlier reported that the 10,000 most-followed organisations would be allowed to retain their checkmarks without paying.
An earlier attempt by Musk last autumn to make subscribers indistinguishable from legacy verified accounts backfired when subscribers took advantage of their checkmarks to impersonate high-profile users and organisations.
Musk last week backtracked over a plan to promote only the posts of paying users.