After major public figures like LeBron James and Stephen King refused to pay for blue checks, Elon Musk admitted on Thursday to footing their subscription bills — not that they asked.

The Twitter CEO finally purged the unpaid “legacy” blue checks from the platform, a goal of his since taking control of the company in October. This, ostensibly, means that any users who still have a verification badge are paying for Twitter Blue, the premium version of the app — and their profiles are labeled as subscribed to the service.

James, King and William Shatner, three celebrities who each tangled directly with Musk on Twitter in recent months after saying they had no plans to subscribe to Twitter Blue, have the paid checkmark at present.

After Popbase tweeted that Musk said he was “personally paying” the Blue subscriptions of some celebrities, the billionaire replied, “Just Shatner, LeBron and King.”

Given Musk’s penchant for trolling, it’s entirely possible he saddled the trio with the badge as an ironic punishment for criticizing his vision.

While many celebrities and public figures lost their check rather than paying the $8 a month to keep it ($11 if you’re buying through iOS or Android), others seemingly forked over the cash to keep theirs; exactly who remains verified is puzzling.

Earlier on Thursday, King tweeted that the information currently listed on his profile is incorrect, maintaining that he is not subscribed and has not verified his account with a phone number. It was also confirmed that James declined an offer for a complimentary subscription.

Of the 50 most-followed accounts on Twitter, only seven users — apart from Musk himself and Barack Obama, who have affiliate blue checks linked to official organizations — are currently verified: Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Ellen DeGeneres, Britney Spears, LeBron James, Jimmy Fallon, and Miley Cyrus. Rolling Stone has contacted representatives for each to ask if they are actually subscribed to Twitter Blue as indicated on the app. Musk’s ex, Grimes, is listed as a subscriber as well, but a representative for the musician did not immediately return request for comment as to whether she’s paying.

Ice T — whose account currently bears a Twitter Blue badge — said the furor over verification marked a “Sad moment in society.” The Law & Order: SVU star had previously confirmed he wouldn’t pay to stay verified. On Thursday, he quote-tweeted King’s remark, appearing to indicate that he still hadn’t done so.

The fact that we’re even discussing Blue Check marks is a Sad moment in society. Smh lol.— ICE T (@FINALLEVEL) April 20, 2023

There’s another potential angle to comping subscriptions like this: It makes Twitter Blue look more popular among famous users with large followings. Some prominent entertainers are making their indifference to verification status quite plain. “Y’all mf’s out here worried about the wrong check,” tweeted Wiz Khalifa, who no longer has a blue check despite his audience of more than 36 million followers. By contrast, half of Twitter Blue subscribers have under 1,000 followers, and around 17 percent have under 100.

Whatever Musk’s game here, one thing is for sure — we’re really no closer to understanding whose blue check means what. Perhaps not ideal for a “verification” system, though nothing about Twitter has been ideal of late.

Original Article