In a tongue-in-cheek article, the New York Times, with 55 million followers on Twitter, humorously anticipated an “apocalypse” on the platform due to recent policy changes. The renowned newspaper declared it would not pay for institutional accounts, setting a trend soon followed by other prominent media outlets such as the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, AP, BuzzFeed, Politico, and Vox Media. Dozens of journalists, parties, and media platforms refused to submit to Elon Musk’s decision to charge for a service that had always been free.
High-profile celebrities, such as basketball player LeBron James, with millions of followers, have also distanced themselves from the new policy. James, among other public figures, commented, “I’m not going to pay.”
Within hours, Twitter removed the verification badge from the New York Times’ main account. Musk tweeted that the Times’ account would lose its verification mark and later posted derogatory remarks against the newspaper. The Times has extensively covered Twitter and reported on flaws in Tesla’s partially automated driving systems, an electric vehicle company also owned by Musk.
Since its creation in 2009, the blue badge placed next to a profile name has become a vital hallmark on Twitter. Accounts seeking certification courted it, allowing the platform to become a secure forum for stars, politicians, organizations, and journalists. Last week, the tech giant announced that it would remove its existing verification system on April 1 and strip badges from users—including celebrities, journalists, and other public figures—who did not pay an $8 monthly premium for the service.
A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Times stated, “First, verification no longer establishes authority or credibility. Instead, it just means someone paid for a subscription to Twitter Blue. Second, while Twitter remains an essential tool for gathering news, it’s not as reliable as it once was. We also won’t pay to verify our organization on Twitter. It’s still unclear if there’s any real value in doing so, beyond identifying ourselves as LA Times employees.”
According to the New York Times, Twitter’s intentions go beyond monetizing a service. Citing an internal document, the Times reports that Twitter plans to retain the badges of the top 1,000 companies with the most followers and the 500 largest advertisers. For general organizations, starting today, Twitter will demand a $1,000 monthly fee.
Travis Brown, a software developer specializing in social media monitoring, noted that over 60,000 people or entities had chosen to pay for verification by Sunday morning. However, he pointed out that most of these accounts were small and had never been verified before.