"I would NEVER pay for this": Celebs fume after Musk restores blue checks for "influential" users

Musk's free badges draw outrage after he sold "verification" to users for $8 a pop

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Staff Writer

Published April 4, 2024 3:51PM (EDT)

X/Twitter and Tesla CEO Elon Musk during a visit at the Tesla electric car plant in Gruenheide near Berlin, eastern Germany, on March 13, 2024. (ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images)
X/Twitter and Tesla CEO Elon Musk during a visit at the Tesla electric car plant in Gruenheide near Berlin, eastern Germany, on March 13, 2024. (ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images)

X, the platform formerly known as Twitter and currently headed by tech magnate Elon Musk, has seemingly restored blue check marks for a number of high-profile users. 

Prior to Musk’s takeover, Twitter’s blue checks signified a form of verification for celebrities, professional athletes, politicians, and other well-known public figures. Once the head of SpaceX and Tesla assumed ownership of the popular social media platform in October of 2022, he stripped all users of the badge, only issuing them to those who paid $8 per month for X Premium. 

However, as of Wednesday, multiple X users deemed “influential members of the community” saw the reinstatement of their blue verification checks to their accounts despite not paying the monthly fee. Musk teased the new rollout of badges on March 27, tweeting, “Going forward, all 𝕏 accounts with over 2500 verified subscriber followers will get Premium features for free and accounts with over 5000 will get Premium+ for free.”

The return of the blue checks came at the chagrin of several celebrities. 

“What happened? I didn’t pay for this. I would NEVER pay for this,” “Community” and “Drake and Josh” actor Yvette Nicole Brown wrote on X. “When did the Blue Check mark start getting passed around again?!”

Oscar-nominee Jeffrey Wright took to the platform to share his dismay with the return of verification statuses, citing a screenshot of a notification that he had received a complimentary subscription to X premium. 

“As an influential member of the community on X, we’ve given you a complimentary subscription to X Premium subject to X Premium Terms by selecting this notice,” the notification read. “X reserves the right to cancel the complimentary subscription in its sole discretion.”

“Translation: Pay $8? Kidding. Help me. But don’t say anything too free speechy about me or my Garbage Tower of Babel s**tsite,” the "American Fiction" star wrote.

“The Wire” creator David Simon offered a candid and crude take on the situation.

"Yo, Elon, take this blue check and scratch your taint with the long end of it,” he tweeted. “Does anyone out there know how to turn this f**ker off?

According to a report from The Associated Press, a number of AP staffers also received badges they did not pay for or request. 

A similar scenario occurred last April, when Musk ostensibly reassigned — and in some cases, outright gifted — blue checkmarks to accounts with more than a million followers. 

"On my soul i didn't pay for twitter blue, u will feel my wrath tesla man," tweeted rapper Lil Nas X.

"I did not pay for Twitter blue you f**king pig," RuPaul's Drag Race alumn Trixie Mattel wrote.

Author Neil Gaiman set the record straight with his followers, telling them, "For the curious, I'm not subscribed to Twitter Blue. I haven't given anyone my phone number. What a sad, muddled place this has become."

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Gabriella Ferrigine is a staff writer at Salon. Originally from the Jersey Shore, she moved to New York City in 2016 to attend Columbia University, where she received her B.A. in English and M.A. in American Studies. Formerly a staff writer at NowThis News, she has an M.A. in Magazine Journalism from NYU and was previously a news fellow at Salon.

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Culture David Simon Elon Musk Jeffrey Wright Lil Nas X Neil Gaiman Twitter X Yvette Nicole Brown