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April 3, 2023

NYT Loses Twitter Verification Badge, Refuses to Pay

Twitter initiates a “pay to play” regime for its verification badge

On 2 April 2023, Twitter effaced the New York Times’ verification badge, among other news organizations. The legacy verified program was initially intended to protect accounts from impersonation, granting them a sense of trustworthiness. Now, the “pay to play” policy allows virtually any user to appear verified. Under a “Twitter Blue” subscription, organizations are mandated to pay $1000 per month for a verification badge, and $8 for individuals.

The New York Times refused to pay to sustain their verification badge: “[we are] not planning to pay the monthly fee for check mark status of our institutional Twitter accounts” stated a spokesperson. In response to a meme on the same, Elon Musk wrote, “Oh ok, we’ll take it off then”.

Celebrities including Lebron James and William Shatner, refused to pay for Twitter Blue. The question may not be about affordability, but in protest, the highest paid NBA player said, “... if you know me I ain’t paying the 5”. As it appears in popular culture, the absence of a checkmark has become a “status symbol”, as articulated by Dan Pfieffer. Twitter envisions itself as “the most trusted place on the internet”; however, it has become impossible for users to differentiate legitimate accounts from fake ones. Minutes within the move, the platform was filled with trolls changing their names and images to impersonate celebrities, companies, and politicians.

Toward the end of 2022, Twitter was losing $4 million daily, as reported by CNBC. Designed to cover losses, Elon Musk redefines the subscription as a means to foster equality on the social media platform.

When information is instantaneous and abundant, fake news obliterates the internet. It is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish the real from the matrix. Who is to say a blue checkmark; birthed from legacy or payment, represents truth? The “pay to play” program renders the symbol arbitrary, leaving users on their own, in a sea of content. As Baudrillard foresaw, “it is the truth which conceals that there is none”.

Kriti Swarup
Kriti Swarup
Content Writer at TechNews180
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