Twitter fulfilled its promise to remove obsolete verification badges from users on Thursday, but the company’s CEO Elon Musk seems desperate enough to keep some top users — including LeBron James and Stephen King — on the platform by paying for their Twitter Blue Subscriptions.
In a tweet shared Thursday afternoon, Musk said he “paid a few (subscriptions) in person” in response to a story by The edge that noted that the NBA star did not pay for Twitter Blue, but was given a free subscription by Musk. So told a source close to James, who has maintained the blue verification badge on his Twitter account The Hollywood Reporter that the NBA star had not responded to the email to accept the paid subscription.
Musk seems to have done the same for King, who tweeted earlier on Thursday that he did not pay for Twitter Blue and did not offer a phone number to verify his identity, despite his account retaining a blue check. In response to King, Musk wrote: “You’re welcome namaste 🙏”
William Shatner and Ice-T, who have particularly spoken out against Musk’s approach to paid verification, also maintained their blue checks, though it’s not immediately clear if Musk had offered them free plans as well. (Representatives for King, Shatner and Ice-T did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)
But the same cannot be said for other notable figures. As of Thursday afternoon, the accounts of Kim Kardashian, Beyoncé, Tom Cruise, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, John Oliver, Bill Gates and The Pope all lost their verification badges. Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was also a victim of the massive relocations.
Alex Weprin contributed to this report.