Most so-called “legacy” Twitter accounts lost their blue checkmark on Thursday, just as CEO Elon Musk promised. But at least two high-profile accounts, including basketball star LeBron James and author Stephen King, still have their checkmarks. Did they pay $8 for Twitter Blue? Maybe. But both men previously insisted they wouldn’t be paying.
“Welp guess my blue [checkmark] will be gone soon cause if you know me I ain’t paying the 5,” James tweeted on March 31.
But if you click on the blue checkmark next to James’s name, you’ll see it reads, “This account is verified because they are subscribed to Twitter Blue and verified their phone number.”
Is James actually paying for the service or is Musk trying to simply make it look like he’s paying? I’ve tried to reach out to James through Twitter, but obviously users with large accounts—James has over 52 million followers—are unlikely to see random Twitter messages.
You could chalk it up as an anomaly, except that another account belonging to horror legend Stephen King, who also very publicly said he’d never pay for Twitter Blue, still has his checkmark as of Thursday afternoon.
“$20 a month to keep my blue check? Fuck that, they should pay me. If that gets instituted, I’m gone like Enron,” King tweeted back in October of 2022 shortly after Musk bought the company.
King, who has over 7 million followers at the time of this writing, addressed the fact that he still had his checkmark on Thursday after this article was first posted. The author denied he pays for Twitter Blue.
Even Pope Francis was stripped of his checkmark, leading some people to already create impersonator accounts in the short time he lost his blue tick.
Is Elon Musk making it look like some high-profile figures are paying for Twitter because he realizes that Twitter looks pretty pathetic if only low-follower accounts and neo-Nazis are the ones willing to pay for Twitter verification? It sure seems that way right now.
A blue checkmark from Twitter used to simply mean a person was who they said they were. After baseball legend Tony La Russa filed a lawsuit against the social media company back in 2009 over an impersonator, Twitter rolled out verification to protect high-profile accounts. But Twitter no longer “verifies” the identity of anyone who pay for Twitter Blue and now that anyone can pay a few bucks to get a meaningless checkmark.
Twitter responded to emailed questions with a poop emoji, an automated response set up by Musk that goes out to all reporters. I’ll update this article if I receive a legitimate response.
Updated at 1:35 p.m with a tweet from Stephen King denying that he pays for Twitter Blue.