Twitter has removed the "verified" blue tick from The New York Times' main profile after the newspaper declined to sign up for Elon Musk's new scheme of paid-for verification. This move has sparked criticism as it increases the chances of imposters spreading disinformation on the platform. Other publications such as The Los Angeles Times, public bodies like the White House, and celebrities like Lebron James have also publicly stated that they would not pay for blue tick services.
Under Twitter's new rules, organizations can apply for a new "gold" tick while individuals must pay for a Twitter Blue subscription costing £11 per month for access to a selection of new tools. However, The White House director of digital strategy Rob Flaherty informed staffers in an email sent on Friday afternoon that Twitter Blue does not provide person-level verification as a service.
The concept behind verification was to prove users' identities; however, news organizations are not paying for their reporters or themselves to receive blue checks under Elon Musk's Twitter Blue subscription service. Some publications such as The Washington Post and BBC are refusing to pay altogether stating that verified checkmarks no longer represent authority and expertise.
On Sunday, billionaire owner of Tesla Inc., SpaceX and other companies - Elon Musk called out The New York Times as hypocritical over its decision not to buy a Twitter Blue subscription while charging subscriptions for its own content. Several high-profile people and organizations have followed suit with their refusal to pay but haven't lost their verification symbols yet.
Musk stripped away the checkmark from the newspaper after calling it “propaganda” claiming that their feed was “the Twitter equivalent of diarrhea,” while other accounts affiliated with them still have their check marks at this time. It is unclear whether this move by Musk is designed primarily to help shore up revenue or further his ongoing feud with Jeff Bezos and Amazon, which is currently in a high-profile battle with SpaceX over the US government's contract for lunar lander services.
Twitter has not yet responded to requests for comments on this matter. However, several critics have pointed out that removing verification from accounts that don't pay up could lead to an increase in misinformation and imposters spreading disinformation on the platform.