Elon Musk Made It Look Like Stephen King and LeBron James Paid for Twitter Blue (They Didn’t)

Turns out Musk also didn’t kill legacy verification blue checks, “he literally just hid them”

Elon Musk, verification marks (Getty Images)
Elon Musk, verification marks (Getty Images)

The Twitter blue check apocalypse finally happened on Thursday as all so-called “legacy” verified accounts lost their blue checks. Officially, from this point on the only people who will have verified accounts and a blue check next to their handles will be those willing to pay $8.00 a month for a subscription to Twitter Blue.

Except, not quite. It turns out that owner Elon Musk tried to pull not one, but two fast ones, and the result is that Twitter Blue is an even bigger laughing stock than it was before the switchover happened.

First, users noticed something curious after the “legacy” blue checks were removed. LeBron James, who last month said that there’s absolutely no way he’d pay somehow still have one. And when you click it, you’re informed that “This account is verified because they are subscribed to Twitter Blue and verified their phone number.”

Shortly after, author Stephen King turned out to also have one too. And just like LeBron, Twitter claimed that he had a blue check because “they are subscribed to Twitter Blue and verified their phone number.”

King made it clear he did no such thing. “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,” he said.

Musk eventually owned up to the deception, claiming just after 3 p.m. Pacific that “I’m paying for a few personally.”

Half an hour later, he replied to King’s denial with a sarcastic, “you’re welcome, namaste.”

King was of course one of the first celebrities on Twitter to declare he absolutely would not pay a dime back in October when Musk first announced plans to charge for blue checks. “F— that,” he said in October, prompting Musk to practically beg him to reconsider. King never changed his mind; it appears Musk decided to stop asking.

It’s unclear how many other celebrities have also been signed up for Twitter blue against their will. The Verge identified rapper-actor Ice-T as a likely, however.

But in addition to what certainly appears to be an attempt to make it look as though his celebrity critics had changed their minds, it turns out Musk also didn’t really kill off the old verification system. He just had legacy account blue checks removed from them.

Several Twitter users discovered this by using the Twitter search term “filter:verified -filter:blue_verified.”

The result: All the verified users who, until Thursday, had blue checks.

(If you need an explanation, the minus sign ahead of “blue verified” means the search will locate all verified accounts except Twitter Blue subscribers. If you want to find only Twitter blue subs, search using “filter:blue_verified -filter:verified” instead.)

What appears to be the case is that Twitter has simply hidden the blue checks similar to a feature Twitter Blue subscribers can use to conceal that they paid for a blue check. Which, incidentally, is a feature many observers believe was added because Twitter Blue subscribers are, quite frankly, widely mocked.

We’ve also confirmed that in the notifications section on a legacy verified user’s account, a “verified” tab is still available. And as of this writing it includes tweets from both Twitter Blue subscribers and currently blue check-free verified account users.