Twitter’s move to strip away legacy verification sparked mass confusion on Friday — with some celebrities keeping their blue checks while others, including Pope Francis and Kim Kardashian, joined the unverified masses.
The Elon Musk-led platform carried out its long-awaited purge of legacy verified accounts on Thursday. In order to be receive a blue check, users must now sign up for Musk’s $8-per-month “Twitter Blue” service.
However, famed author Stephen King was bewildered after noticing his account was still verified – even though he has bashed Musk’s verification overhaul. NBA superstar LeBron James and “Star Trek” actor William Shatner also kept their blue checks.
“My Twitter account says I’ve subscribed to Twitter Blue. I haven’t,” King tweeted to his more than 7.1 million followers. “My Twitter account says I’ve given a phone number. I haven’t. Just so you know.”
“You’re welcome namaste,” Musk replied.
The three celebrities have something in common – they had all publicly declared they would not pay for verification.
Their accounts displayed the textbook message describing them as “verified because they are subscribed to Twitter Blue and verified their phone number.”
My Twitter account says I’ve subscribed to Twitter Blue. I haven’t.
My Twitter account says I’ve given a phone number. I haven’t.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) April 20, 2023
Stephen King said he hasn’t paid for Twitter Blue.Getty Images
In October, King had said he would be “gone like Enron” with Musk followed through with his verification changes.
James’ media adviser, Adam Mendelsohn, confirmed to The Verge that he hadn’t paid for the service. A Twitter employee purportedly emailed James recently to inform him that the company had decided to “extend a complimentary subscription to Twitter Blue for your account, @kingjames, on behalf of Elon Musk.”
Elon Musk is covering the bill for LeBron James’ Twitter Blue accout.
Musk later revealed that he was covering the bill.
“I’m paying for a few personally,” Musk tweeted. “Just Shatner, LeBron and King.”
Other widely-followed accounts, such as those belonging to pop stars Taylor Swift, Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus, also retained their blue checks – though it was not immediately clear if they actually paid for Twitter Blue.
Kardashian, who has more than 75 million Twitter followers, is no longer verified. Beyoncé, former President Donald Trump and even the Pope also lost their blue checks – though the latter was later given a grey check that denotes a “government or multilateral organization account.”
Joe Biden and the White House also got grey checks. Former President Barack Obama got a blue check, with the site explaining it’s because the former president’s account is an affiliate of the @TheObamaOffice account, which in turn got a gold check.
Kim Kardashian was among the celebrities who lose their blue checkmarks.Instagram/@kimkardashian
Some celebrities blasted Musk by tweet after losing their coveted verified status – or simply commented on the change.
“So by revoking my blue check mark because I wouldn’t pay some arbitrary fee, someone can just be me and say a bunch of bulls—t,” wrote actress Alyssa Milano. “Does that mean Twitter and @elonmusk are liable for defamation or identity theft or fraud?”
Milano also added a line to her Twitter bio which read: “NOT PAYING FOR A BLUE CHECK MARK!”
“Elon took my blue check away! I’m unverified! After all these years and thousands of tweets and free content, this worm has the nerve to de-certify me!” tweeted actress Bette Midler.
“No blue check, still feel like me,” said actor Ben Stiller.
“Blue check or no check… I know my fans still checkin,” tweeted the singer Ciara.
Pope Francis lost his blue check mark, but was later reverified.
The verified account purge – which was rolled out on 4/20 – had been expected for months. Musk had described Twitter’s verification process under old management as a “lords and peasants system” that was unfair to rank-and-file users.
At the same time, Musk is looking for additional sources of revenue at Twitter due to a significant decline in advertising since he took over the company last October.
Musk’s long-planned overhaul had sparked concern among many public officials, as well as some companies, who warned that it could make it harder to distinguish famous figures and brands from impersonators.
Those fears were realized during an initial launch of “Twitter Blue” verification last November, which saw a spike in verified troll accounts impersonating famous figures – including Jesus Christ – that prompted an uproar among advertisers. The chaos led Twitter to temporarily suspend its plans.