Twitter adds blue checks to accounts of dead celebrities

Tapping the icon says the deceased individuals are "subscribed" to Twitter Blue.

Dado Ruvic / reuters

When Elon Musk first announced Twitter would start charging for verification, he said the company’s legacy “lords & peasants” system was “bullshit.” Now, just days after winding down the old system, Twitter has begun handing out blue ticks to celebrity users and accounts with more than one million followers. Among the users who received the verification but say they did not pay for the service include author Neil Gaiman, actor Ron Perlman, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Twitter comic dril.

“For the curious, I’m not subscribed to Twitter Blue,” author Neil Gaiman tweeted on Sunday afternoon. “I haven’t given anyone my phone number. What a sad, muddled place this has become.” Other celebrities expressed similar sentiments. “Ah they got me. Im fucked,” dril wrote, before later losing his check mark – seemingly because Paul Dochney, the writer who runs the account, changed dril’s display name to “slave to Woke.”

It’s unclear just how many users Twitter has re-verified in this way. On Friday, Musk claimed he was “personally” paying the Twitter Blue subscription of a few celebrities, including LeBron James and Stephen King. Additionally, accounts that once belonged to Chadwick Boseman, Kobe Bryant and Anthony Bourdain, celebrities who died long before Musk’s takeover of Twitter, were also reverified over the weekend. The same message appears if you click on any of the blue checks associated with those accounts. “This account is verified because they are subscribed to Twitter Blue and verified their phone number.”

It’s unclear if someone paid to verify those accounts or if Twitter granted them blue checks free of charge. Twitter does not operate a public relations department Engadget could reach for comment. Understandably, many of those who got their check mark for free are upset that Twitter is suggesting they paid for Twitter Blue. “Its ok he fired the people in charging telling him its illegal,” dril joked, pointing to a screenshot showing the Wikipedia page detailing the Lanham Act, a federal law that lays out, among other things, what constitutes false endorsement in the US.