If the Elon Musk Twitter saga was an ongoing novel in the works, then his recent feud with The New York Times is its latest chapter. Musk previously announced that on April 1, Twitter would be removing verified checkmarks from legacy verified accounts that wouldn’t pay for Twitter Blue, the new premium subscription for the platform. After The New York Times announced that it would not pay for Twitter Blue, it lost its blue checkmark, the only indicator of an account’s legitimacy.
Looking at this from purely a business perspective, this makes sense. We need to remember that social media platforms may be spaces of free speech, but they are first and foremost businesses looking to make money. I compare accounts losing their blue checkmarks to the good old days of premium channels on cable television. HBO, for example, is an added paid feature to your cable package. If you don’t want to keep paying for your subscription, then you don’t get access to the channel anymore. Plain and simple.
You’re also talking about an internet checkmark that gives you a few additional features that aren’t all that useful. Big names like Doja Cat have also lost their verification and do not care.
The New York Times may not be verified on Twitter, but so what? The New York Times has existed long before the age of Twitter and the age of the internet. The groundbreaking and trustworthy reporting from its journalists over the years is more than enough proof of its legitimacy as a news organization. Its main account also boasts 54.9 million followers, and I don’t think all of those current followers will suddenly cry “fake news” over the loss of a verified checkmark.
I think The New York Times will always face accusations of being fake news regardless of a minute decision like not paying $1,000 a month for Twitter Blue. Individual users pay $1,000. It is unfortunately the world we live in, a world where honest and ethical reporting can be labeled as fake or as propaganda just because the reporting or company’s political leanings don’t fit your worldview.
There is also nothing stopping reporters for The New York Times from paying $8 a month out of pocket either if they choose to do so for their personal accounts. Most of Twitter Blue’s features are honestly not worth it, though.
Some of the additional features, or at least proposed features, include priority in replies, mentions and search, an edit button, half as many ads and sponsored tweets, personal custom navigation and layout options, the ability to post longer videos and early access to Twitter Blue Labs features.
Twitter Blue Labs sounds cool at first because you can test upcoming features out first, but their accessibility can change over time and even be removed outright. Not all features are available on all platforms either.
The groundbreaking and trustworthy reporting from its journalists over the years is more than enough proof of its legitimacy as a news organization.
The one feature that journalists at The New York Times may appreciate from Twitter Blue is the priority-boosting feature. The feature has been tweaked since November to give a small boost to paid users’ rankings when they interact with tweets. Journalists who are active on Twitter to post their work and interact with others may appreciate this feature to give them a little bit of an edge in gaining visibility.
So, do I think The New York Times no longer being verified is the worst thing in the world and a blow to its credibility? No. I think Twitter Blue is a bad idea in general. Unlike the Jack Dorsey era where verification was a slow process, verification now just means having an account that is non deceptive, active and older than 30 days. That is a very low bar to set, and I think it will lead to a lot of problems down the line. At least The New York Times won’t have any part in it.
Featured photo courtesy of cottonbro studio, Pexels