Twitter begins its blue tick purge with The New York Times

3 Apr 2023

Image: © tashatuvango/

Twitter Blue subscribers can no longer be distinguished from accounts with legacy checkmarks, while some of the platform’s code has been released on GitHub.

Twitter has started making changes to its verification badge, as the description of the iconic blue tick has been changed.

The platform has been in a state of confusion for months, with some users having a “legacy” blue tick from the earlier verification system, while others have it for subscribing to Twitter Blue.

Different descriptions were issued to these ticks to help distinguish them. But now, all blue ticks on the platform have the description “this account is verified because it’s subscribed to Twitter Blue or is a legacy verified account”.

The move is part of Elon Musk’s push to move verification fully to its subscription service, which the CEO has previously said will help give “power to the people” on the platform.

Legacy verified checkmarks were scheduled to be removed from 1 April on Twitter, but it appears the platform has entered a winding down period.

Musk allegedly said in a deleted tweet that legacy accounts are being given a few weeks of grace “unless they tell they won’t pay now, in which we will remove it”.

Various high-profile accounts have stated they don’t plan to pay the monthly subscription of $8 to retain their blue checkmark, including athlete LeBron James. The US White House doesn’t plan to pay for its staff’s profiles to be verified, according to an email seen by Axios.

Despite celebrities tweeting that they don’t plan to pay, the only account that has lost its verification badge to date appears to be The New York Times.

After being told by a Twitter user that the news organisation doesn’t plan to pay for verification, Musk said “Oh ok, we’ll take it off then”.

Musk also criticised The New York Times in a tweet, which said the “real tragedy” for the media group is that “their propaganda isn’t even interesting”.

Last week, The New York Times, citing an internal Twitter document, revealed that Twitter will not remove the blue tick “for its top 500 advertisers and for the 10,000 most-followed organisations that have been previously verified”.

Twitter goes open source

Meanwhile, Twitter has released some of its source code onto two GitHub repositories, which includes the algorithm that controls what users see on their For You timeline.

The platform said this is a measure to begin a “new era of transparency” for the platform, but will likely also serve as a means to improve its code. Musk tweeted that many “embarrassing issues” will be discovered as a result.

“Ultimately, this is our first step to be more transparent in this way, and we plan to continue sharing more code that does not present a significant risk to Twitter or people on our platform,” Twitter said in a blog post.

“We invite the community to submit GitHub issues and pull requests for suggestions on improving the recommendations algorithm.”

Some Twitter users that have looked through the code claim there is an algorithm that labels whether the author of a tweet is Musk.

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic