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New York Times Won’t Pay For Twitter Verification As Imposter Concerns Grow: Report

The New York Times will not pay Twitter for verification on the platform when their checkmark disappears next month, according to a new report from CNN. Elon Musk recently announced all checkmarks that were acquired before he bought the company in October will disappear in the first two weeks of April.

“We aren’t planning to pay the monthly fee for verification of our institutional Twitter accounts,” a Times spokesperson told Oliver Darcy, a media reporter at CNN, on Thursday.

The New York Times also told Darcy that any reporter who chooses to pay for verification on their personal accounts won’t be reimbursed except in “rare instances where verified status would be essential for reporting purposes.”

The checkmark verification program was first introduced after baseball legend Tony La Russa filed a lawsuit against Twitter back in 2009 over an impersonator. The entire purpose of the checkmark was to increase trust on the platform and stop people from impersonating celebrities and other notable people like journalists and activists. But Twitter announced on March 23 it would strip verification from all accounts that weren’t paying for a blue checkmark.

“On April 1st, we will begin winding down our legacy verified program and removing legacy verified checkmarks. To keep your blue checkmark on Twitter, individuals can sign up for Twitter Blue here,” Twitter said in a tweet.

Twitter Blue costs anywhere from $7 to $11 per month, depending on which platform a user signs up on and whether they decide to pay annually or monthly. Twitter doesn’t actually verify the identity of anyone who signs up for Twitter Blue—all it proves is that someone has at least $11.

And while the move to strip all legacy accounts of their blue checkmarks is a money-making strategy from Musk, researchers report just 220,000 users have decided to pay for the service, with about 17% having fewer than 100 followers.

Some of Twitter’s most prominent celebrities have expressed frustration that they’ll no longer be verified, presumably making it easier for impersonation accounts to surface and trick people. Actor William Shatner expressed his displeasure with the change recently.

“Hey @elonmusk what’s this about blue checks going away unless we pay Twitter? I’ve been here for 15 years giving my [time] & witty thoughts all for bupkis. Now you’re telling me that I have to pay for something you gave me for free? What is this – the Colombia Records & Tape Club?” Shatner tweeted on March 25.

Musk tried to defend the move by insisting it was all about fairness, an explanation that doesn’t make much sense if the purpose is to combat impersonation.

“It’s more about treating everyone equally. There shouldn’t be a different standard for celebrities imo,” Musk tweeted, using an abbreviation for “in my opinion.”

Twitter made quite a mess when it first launched a new and improved version of Twitter Blue under Musk, with impersonators getting “verified” under several well known brand names, including Apple, Tesla, and SpaceX. An impersonator account made to look like drugmaker Eli Lily even tweeted that insulin would be made free, causing the company’s stock to plummet.

The New York Times did not immediately respond to an email Thursday afternoon ET. I’ll update this article if I hear back.