Twitter struck down the New York Times’ verified badge at Elon Musk’s behest

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Twitter removed the “verified” badge from the New York Times’ main account on Sunday, an overnight push after billionaire owner Elon Musk learned the news outlet wouldn’t pay for its Twitter Blue service.

The move continues Musk’s years-long grudge against American journalists who have reported critically on him and could raise the risk of impersonation. It also contradicts an internal plan at first reported The Times on Thursday held badges for its 10,000 most-followed companies, regardless of whether they paid.

Twitter said it will begin phasing out its traditional verification program starting Saturday, removing the blue verification icons it has used for years on the accounts of verified companies, journalists and public figures.

In its place, Twitter is implementing a pay-to-play system that will give badges to anyone who pays — money the company desperately needs to offset its declining ad revenue and billions of dollars in debt. Twitter Blue costs users $8 a month, with a fee for businesses that want verification $1,000 per month.

By Sunday morning, Times – Twitter 24th most followed accountIt was one of a few dozen accounts that had its badge removed, according to data collected by Travis Browne, a developer of conversion tracking software — with more than 54 million followers.

Twitter’s blue check mark has been loved and hated. Pay to play now.

The move appears to have been directed or encouraged by Musk personally replied “Oh well, we’ll take it down,” he said Saturday night of a memo outlining the Times’ decision not to pay for Twitter verification.

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The Times, The Washington Post and other news organizations said Thursday that they would not pay for verification for their news organizations or journalists, although the Times said there may be some rare exceptions where the tag may be necessary for “notification purposes.”

When asked Sunday about the move, a Times spokeswoman reiterated that the news organization still “doesn’t plan to pay a monthly fee to checkmark status for our corporate Twitter accounts.”

Musk did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

It’s not clear why other accounts still have the badge. The Post reported Friday that removing the verification badges would require extensive manual work because of the company’s error-prone software, which a former employee described as “all held together with duct tape.”

In a since-deleted tweet early Sunday morning, Musk was said The company will give verified accounts “a few weeks, they won’t pay now and we’ll remove it.”

Musk tweeted several attacks on the Times overnight, saying “their campaign isn’t even interesting.”

Twitter, as a company policy imposed by Musk, will no longer respond to questions from journalists under any circumstances. In December, it suspended several journalists, including this reporter, for tweeting about the company’s sudden termination of accounts that had shared public data about Musk’s private jets.

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While Musk said Friday that he wants to make Twitter “the most trusted place on the Internet,” the move will make it harder for Twitter users to distinguish between legitimate and fake accounts. Pranksters and trolls have already started changing their names and photos on the platform to impersonate celebrities, companies and politicians.

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One account, using the Times’ name and photo, tweeted, “Sources on Twitter say Elon Musk has a baby.”

Although the Times’ main account no longer has a check mark icon, accounts for its other properties still exist.

Also make celebrity accounts, including basketball icon LeBron James. He tweeted that To her more than 52 million followers on Friday, she wrote, “Welp ukiss my blue [check mark] When you know I didn’t pay 5 will go away soon.

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