Elon Musk admits paying Twitter blue tick fees for celebrities who boycotted controversial levy

Elon Musk has said he’s “personally” paying for Twitter Blue subscriptions for a few celebrities who declined to subscribe themselves.

The Twitter chief confirmed that he is paying for the accounts of William Shatner, Stephen King, and LeBron James to have their blue tick verification badges.

“I’m paying for a few personally,” the Twitter CEO tweeted in response to a claim from T(w)itter Daily News that “Some celebrities have been offered a complimentary Twitter Blue subscription ‘on behalf of Elon Musk.’”

“Just Shatner, LeBron and King,” the multibillionaire then Tweeted on Friday.

The three famous personalities are also high profile critics of the blue tick fees, and have previously tweeted, complaining about the move.

“Welp guess my blue tick will be gone soon cause if you know me, I ain’t paying the 5,” the basketball legend said last month.

Twitter deleted the blue verification checkmarks given to accounts run by notable people and organisations on Thursday in a bid to get more people to sign up for the new Twitter Blue subscription service. The service costs $8 per month, and a number of celebrities have publicly said they’re not interested in paying it.

But even though they didn’t pay, some people’s blue checkmarks didn’t disappear on Thursday.

“My Twitter account says I’ve subscribed to Twitter Blue,” the author Stephen King – a high-profile critic of the Twitter owner – wrote. “I haven’t. My Twitter account says I’ve given a phone number. I haven’t.”

“You’re welcome namaste,” Mr Musk responded.

The deletion of verification status comes just weeks after Mr Musk wrote in a leaked memo that the social media platform’s value has plummeted and is now worth less than half of the $44bn he paid for it. Mr Musk has also laid off the majority of the company’s employees. In December, he said there are currently 2,000 people working for Twitter down from 7,500.

The challenges at Twitter aren’t the only negative press Mr Musk is facing. Early on Thursday morning, Mr Musk’s SpaceX launched a rocket from a beach in South Texas that blew up after just minutes in flight. The failure of the launch covered the city of Port Isabel, Texas with particulate matter and may also have serious effects on the region’s wildlife and environmental health more broadly.