Is the NYT Magazine trolling us?

Image: School of Visual Arts
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The Quartz newsroom erupted in fits of laughter shortly after 3pm in New York today, stunned and puzzled by the missives emerging from the New York Times Magazine’s Twitter account, @NYTMag.

An uncapitalized, standalone “lol” is an unusual tweet for anyone, let alone the official account of a respected media brand. What the magazine’s social media editors must be laughing at, of course, is the discourse they had invoked by asking readers, “If you could go back and kill Hitler as a baby, would you do it? (What’s your response?)”

Here is how Twitter responded:

Overheard in the newsroom: This is like the peas-in-guac thing, right? I bet it’s a Back to the Future-related stunt.

David Clinch, an editor at an organization that specializes in verifying breaking news stories, wondered if the organization had been hacked.

We think @NYTMag is just, as they say, “trolling.”

Quartz’s Director of Growth, Thomas McBee, via Slack: This is truly a delightful and invigorating Twitter strategy, a very lively late-Friday move from the NYT. I wish they’d troll us more often.

They’ve done it before, after all.

A memo published by the New York Times earlier this month might explain today’s events. It concerned the paper’s strategy for maintaining its “dominant voice” as readers shift to getting their news via mobile devices, and mentioned an intent to keep “experimenting” on social media platforms.