Twitter has removed the verification check mark on the main account of The New York Times, one of Twitter CEO Elon Musk’s most despised news organisations.
The removal comes as many of Twitter’s high-profile users are bracing for the loss of the blue check marks that helped verify their identity and distinguish them from impostors on the socialmedia platform.
Musk, who owns Twitter, set a deadline of Saturday 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 would not pay Twitter for verification of its institutional accounts.
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 Twitter and on flaws with partially automated driving systems at Tesla, the electric car company, which Musk also runs.
Other Times accounts, such as its business news and opinion pages, still had either blue or gold check marks as of Sunday, as did multiple reporters for the news organisation.
“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 added
The Associated Press, which has said it also will not pay for the check marks, still had them displayed on its accounts as of midday Sunday.
Twitter did not answer the Associated Press’ emailed questions about the removal of The New York Times check mark.
The costs of keeping the check marks range from $8 a month for individual web users to a starting price of $1,000 monthly to verify an organisation, plus $50 monthly for each affiliate or employee account. Twitter does not verify the individual accounts to ensure they are who they say they are, as was the case with the previous blue check doled out to public figures and others during the platform’s pre-Musk administration.
While the cost of Twitter Blue subscriptions might seem like nothing for Twitter’s most famous commentators, celebrity users from basketball star LeBron James to Star Trek’s William Shatner have baulked at joining. American sitcom Seinfeld actor Jason Alexander pledged to leave the platform if Musk takes his blue check away.