The official Twitter account for the New York Times crossword was not amused that a random Twitter user joked that completing the puzzle was a license for murder.
"Weird Twitter" account @DxGGEAUX, run by a self-professed communist 17-year-old, joked Tuesday that completing the famously difficult New York Times crossword before anyone else granted the puzzler the right to murder a pundit of their choosing.
if you're the first to complete the new york times crossword puzzle on any given day and are able to deliver conclusive evidence of this feat, the NYT editorial staff allow you to execute one pundit of your choice. full legal amnesty and all
— a paw stamping on a human face forever (@DxGGEAUX) April 9, 2019
The tweet was obviously a joke, but the official account for the crossword and its companion column wasn't laughing. "It's not true and it's not funny," they replied to the teenage communist dog account. "Someone will listen to you and think you are serious."
Both replies to the tweet were "ratioed," with users mocking the crossword for claiming the joke could be taken seriously (as well as for using the gender neutral "cowperson"). But when the teenage communist dog account joked about the controversy in another thread, the New York Times staffer running the crossword account starting replying to that tweet as well.
The crossword account tagged and shamed verified accounts that followed their nemesis, including journalist Molly Jong-Fast and actress Mara Wilson, who played Matilda in the 1996 film. "Your ‘joke' is putting people's lives in danger," it continued to lecture.
Those tweets were also met with derision. A day later, the New York Times' crossword's tweets were deleted and the account acknowledged that its spat with the communist teen was "against our social media guidelines for the newsroom."
We've deleted some tweets from yesterday that were against our social media guidelines for the newsroom.
— NYTimes Wordplay (@NYTimesWordplay) April 10, 2019