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Twitter gives blue check mark to dead folks

The continuing saga of Twitter and its blue check mark has taken a bizarre twist as it seems that a number of deal celebrities are now paying for Twitter Blue.

On the orders of new owner Elon Musk, Twitter last week started removing blue check marks from accounts that have not signed up for Twitter Blue, its premium tier.

Whereas Twitter once gave the verification mark for free to celebrities, politicians, sports stars, and other notable individuals, anyone can now receive one simply by paying for a subscription to Twitter Blue.

Many famous folks have refused to do this and so last week they lost their blue marks. But then some weird stuff started to happen.

A number of people who were adamant they would never pay for a blue checkmark — author Stephen King and actor William Shatner among them — noticed that their account still showed the mark even though they had not subscribed to Blue, making them look a little bit silly. It turned out that a mischievous Elon Musk had paid for them.

“I’m paying for a few personally,” Twitter’s boss tweeted when the blue checks started showing up on accounts that hadn’t paid for them. Musk tweeted later: “A troll, me??”, together with a laughing emoji.

And then, more bizarrely, it emerged that famous people who were definitely in no position to pay for Twitter Blue — because they’re dead — had also been given a complementary blue check.

The deceased “Blue subscribers” include the likes of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, who died in 2018, and basketball legend Kobe Bryant, who died in 2020.

It wasn’t that long ago that Musk dismissed the old method of giving the blue mark to notable accounts as a “lords & peasants” system, but on Saturday accounts with more than a million followers suddenly had their blue marks returned at no cost, meaning many wealthy celebrities have been given the mark for free while regular folks who would like to have it, or simply want the extra benefits that Twitter Blue provides, have to fork out a subscription for it.

Twitter has been experiencing a degree of chaos since Musk acquired the company for $44 billion in a deal last October. With more than half its workforce laid off to cut costs, and Musk apparently making it up as he goes along, who knows where we’ll be with the blue check marks a week from now?

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Trevor Mogg
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