CNN New York --
Some VIP Twitter users expected to lose their blue verification check marks after a previously announced purge. Twitter instead targeted a single account of a major publication Musk doesn't like and changed the language on its website to obscure why verified users are there.
Twitter stated that it would "begin winding up" blue checks issued under its old verification system. This system was designed to protect high-profile users from impersonation and placed emphasis on protecting them. Musk stated that users would need to pay $8 per monthly to remain verified. The platform's Twitter Blue subscription service allows accounts to pay verification since December.
Many legacy blue check holders discovered this weekend that their verification marks hadn't disappeared but had been added with a new label saying: "This account is verified because its subscribed to Twitter Blue, or is a legacy verified accounts." It is unclear if verified accounts are real people or just users who paid to join Twitter Blue.
One high-profile account was robbed of its blue check this weekend, however: The main account for New York Times. CNN had previously reported that the New York Times would not pay verification.
Musk replied to a Twitter account that engages with Musk, saying "Oh ok, we will take it off then." Musk then attacked the Times in a series tweets, claiming that the outlet's coverage was boring and 'propaganda'.
Twitter's weekend moves are the latest example of Twitter causing confusion and whiplash among users about feature changes. This includes not just any user, but several of the most prominent accounts that have been a key selling point of the platform. This also shows how Musk seems to be directing decisions on the platform more by his whims rather than by following policy.
The New York Times' main account has lost its blue check. However, other accounts such as those for arts, travel, and books content were still verified. It is not clear why the New York Times does not have a check mark for 'organizations' that has a gold ring, similar to accounts for other news outlets like the Associated Press or the Washington Post. A spokesperson for New York Times stated to CNN that the company does not intend to pay verification after its blue check was removed.
Twitter laid off its majority of public relations staff last autumn. Twitter did not immediately respond when we asked for comment.
Since shortly after he purchased Twitter last fall, Musk has threatened to remove the 'legacy" blue check marks that were given to users who had been verified using Twitter's old system.
Twitter opened the possibility for those who subscribe to its Twitter Blue service to receive blue checks in November. After being plagued with celebrity and corporate impersonators, the program was quickly halted and relaunched in December.
Twitter also introduced a color-coded verification system that has different colored marks for government agencies and companies, but Musk stated that individuals would eventually need to pay for blue checks.
In the days before the blue check purge that was not, prominent users like actor William Shatner, and anti-bullying activist Monica Lewinksy, argued against the idea that power users who draw attention to the site should be required to pay for a feature to protect them from impersonation.
The new label may make it easier to impersonate or scam high-profile users by blurring the reasons accounts are verified. Experts in fraudulent behavior also stated that it is not clear whether limiting verification to paid users will decrease the number of bots, a concern Musk has repeatedly raised over the years.
Musk has presented previously changes to Twitter's verification process as a way to 'treat everyone equally'
In a tweet last Wednesday, he stated that celebrities shouldn't have a different standard. This paid feature could drive revenue which could be a benefit to Musk, who has significant debts after he bought Twitter for $44billion.
Musk also stated last week that verified accounts will be included in the 'For You’ feeds of users starting April 15.