No Blue Tick for Pope as Twitter Cuts ‘Legacy’ Checks; Musk ‘Pays’ to Keep LeBron James and Stephen King Verified

Elon Musk’s long-promised strategy to deprive Twitter users of free blue ticks went into effect on Thursday, separating the haves from the have-nots.

Accounts with a Twitter Verified check began rising above the others, like a story in which the selected few ascend to a higher realm, a rapture that left most of us behind.

The Pope is the first casualty, and the confidence of his 18.8 million followers will be tested by the lack of a blue badge on the @Pontifex account.
However, the Dalai Lama stayed at one with his blue check across the religious spectrum.

When you hover over His Holiness’ tick, a pop-up box appears with the words “Verified account.”

“This account is verified because they are a Twitter Blue subscriber who has verified their phone number.”
Musk, whose chaotic takeover of Twitter has seen his $44 billion (approximately Rs. 3,61,512 crore) investment dwindle, previously pledged to end what he called a “lords & peasants system,” in which journalists, celebrities, and politicians were given a mark that supposedly meant their accounts could be trusted.

Instead, he offered to sell the blue badge to anyone willing to pay $8 per month, a move he promised last year would “democratize journalism and empower the voice of the people.”

On Thursday, checkmarks appeared to have been deleted from high-profile accounts, as well as those of several reporters at AFP and other news organizations.

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When one reporter noticed the once-coveted tick was vanished, she exclaimed, “I’m naked!”

But it wasn’t simply the chatterati and the commoners who were exposed. Unclothed celebs with massive followings were roaming the Twitterverse.

Horror for Stephen King

Singer Selena Gomez and her 67 million followers: out of tune.

Basketball wizard Steph Curry (17.3 million): out of bounds.

But almost as if there was some grand plan, some scheme to bring order and balance to the universe, each action appeared to have an opposite reaction.

Musical megastar Rihanna: still lifting up her 108.3 million followers.

Los Angeles hoops legend LeBron James and his 52.7 million followers: swish.

The Great Sorting appeared to have no respect for families, with one particularly famous US clan divided.

Ivanka and Don Trump Jr. still revealed in their blue badge, but Eric Trump no longer had his, and neither did his dad, former president Donald Trump.

(The account — which Twitter says he can use again — in any case remains preserved in petulant aspic with a January 8, 2021 posting: “To all those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”)

No area of celebrity life seemed unaffected by the removal of the ticks.

Even Harry Potter creator JK Rowling was reduced to slumming it with the rest of us, her 14 million followers left to divine for themselves whether it was really her or Lord Voldemort at the keyboard.

But everything was maybe not as it seemed.

Fellow wordsmith Stephen King, who had previously vowed he would never cough up, even telling Musk that Twitter should instead be paying him to post, appeared horrified to discover that he still had his blue check.

“My Twitter account says I’ve subscribed to Twitter Blue. I haven’t,” he fumed.

“My Twitter account says I’ve given a phone number. I haven’t.”

Twitter’s troll-in-chief Musk said in response to a news article about the check marks that he was “paying for a few personally,” and replied to King’s message with “You’re welcome namaste.”

The Verge reported that LeBron James’s account was also the beneficiary of the entrepreneur’s (possibly unwanted) largesse.

The tech outlet said a Twitter employee had emailed James — who has insisted he would not pay for a tick — to “extend a complimentary subscription… on behalf of Elon Musk.”

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