Many of Twitter’s users used blue check marks to prove they were whom they claimed and distinguish them from impostors. Musk set a deadline of Saturday for verified users to buy a premium Twitter subscription or lose the checks on their profiles. The Times said it would not pay Twitter to verify its institutional accounts. The moment the deadline expired, Musk removed the Time’s status.
Musk is no fan of the Times. It has dared to report on the Twitter debacle and flaws with partially automated driving systems at Tesla, in a way which did not reveal Musk to be a god amongst men. Musk, who claimed he bought Twitter to preserve free speech, so his closing down newspaper accounts is probably not the sort of image he wanted.
It looks like other media companies will go the same way. Associated Press, which has said it will not pay for the check marks, still had them on its accounts at midday Sunday. We assume that Musk has not gotten around to censoring them yet.
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 whom 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.
Musk appears to be on a loser with the subscription policy. While the price is nothing for big media and the so-called “influencers” celebrities ranging from basketball star LeBron James to Star Trek's William Shatner have baulked at joining. Seinfeld actor Jason Alexander pledged to leave the platform if Musk takes his blue check away.
According to a memo sent to staff, the White House is passing on enrolling in premium accounts. While Twitter has granted a free grey mark for President Joe Biden and members of his Cabinet, lower-level staff will only get Twitter Blue benefits if they pay for it themselves.
"If you see impersonations that you believe violate Twitter's stated impersonation policies, alert Twitter using Twitter's public impersonation portal," said the staff memo from White House official Rob Flaherty.