On Thursday, the second-most jarring rapture, following HBO’s The Leftovers, hit Earth. Twitter finally made good on CEO Elon Musk’s increasingly drawn-out promise to remove the platform’s so-called “legacy” verification checkmarks for anyone not paying for its premium subscription service, Twitter Blue.
Musk first teased the change shortly after his October 2022 purchase of the social media giant. In the near future, he announced, paying for the pre-existing Twitter Blue would grant users all the benefits of the service (like seeing fewer ads and the ability to post longer videos), along with slapping the brand’s coveted blue checkmark onto their accounts. Prior to this, checkmarks were reserved for organizations and users who were deemed notable in news media, government positions, or entertainment industries. Under Musk’s plan, users outside of Twitter’s usual designations could attain what Musk seemed to perceive as merely a status symbol, for only $8 a month.
The rollout of Twitter Blue-verified checkmarks was halted several times over the past few months, due to issues like rampant impersonation. After designating longtime-verified users’ checkmarks as “legacy checkmarks,” Musk confirmed that he would be removing any unpaid blue checks, calling the way that they were given out “corrupt.”
Another couple of months of delays followed, and it was confirmed last week that the great checkmark exodus would happen April 20. This news came just in time to freak out all the stoners celebrating 4/20, as they watched their checkmarks disappear in a plume of smoke.
Now that checkmarks have begun to be stripped from all legacy accounts, formerly verified celebrities—amongst other, less notable people—must pay Twitter Blue’s monthly fee to keep their badges. Naturally, this has resulted in Twitter users darting around to check which celebrities still have a badge, then clicking on them using Twitter’s desktop website, to receive a message that confirms the check cost them some dough (and a phone number). The differentiation in checkmarks among superstar accounts with millions of followers has become glaringly noticeable already: Do they still have a checkmark and ostensibly paid Twitter money, or don’t they?
Almost immediately, a swath of celebs had their accounts undressed alongside the rest of the legacy holders. Musicians like Lady Gaga, Adele, and Jennifer Lopez have all apparently refused to dole out eight bucks at the time of publishing. For a star like Gaga, who has spent her entire career as an outspoken advocate for queer rights, a seeming refusal to pay up feels pointed. Musk has spent his time in charge of Twitter re-platforming transphobes and dallying with right-wing talking heads. It’s no surprise that Gaga would be reluctant to follow Musk down the drain.
The celebrities who have continued to boast the blue next to their names—and thus presumably shelled out cash to Twitter—have been a not-so-surprising mixture of some of the worst and most obnoxious people you’ve ever heard of.
It’s not a shock that Taylor Swift seems to have already paid for Twitter Blue, given her longtime determination to let anyone else control her narrative. Meanwhile, talk show hosts and advocates for yuppie faux positivity, namely Ellen DeGeneres and Jimmy Fallon, have already coughed up a few bucks as well. Those two never met a spine they liked!
However, it’s startling that someone like Nicki Minaj has seemingly yet to jump on the bandwagon. For someone who so enjoys getting into beef on Twitter, you’d think that she’d want her Barbz to see her barbs, by having her tweets bolstered to the top of their timelines with a blue checkmark. Equally mystifying is the fact that the (usually polished) Kardashian empire is on shaky ground today, with only Khloé Kardashian remaining verified. Khloé’s sisters Kim and Kourtney Kardashian remain devoid of a blue check. And that’s understandable. I mean, those Good American jeans aren’t going to sell themselves—migraine pill money does not last forever!
A wealth of other celebrities—mostly singers, and a handful of actors—are apparently Twitter Blue subscribers already too. Shawn Mendes, Ryan Reynolds, Rihanna, Chris Hemsworth, Neil Patrick Harris, Miley Cyrus, and The Weeknd all kept their checkmarks. Sure, to these people, eight dollars is nothing. But what it says about how easily they might be swayed by a power-hungry svengali like Musk is even darker. Twitter is a place where celebrity stans maintain their parasocial relationships with celebrities like these, and the idea that people like Cyrus or Harris would rather maintain a checkmark than take even the smallest political stance by losing it is pretty disheartening. Although, these are celebrities; none of this is particularly surprising.
But the very best part of the blue check massacre thus far has been celebrities’ reaction to losing theirs. The night before the checkmarks were deprogrammed, Halle Berry tweeted a video of herself walking out onto a talk show, captioned, “Me joining you all tomorrow, unverified.”
Perennially underrated singer Ciara also echoed the sentiment once she lost her checkmark this afternoon, tweeting, “Blue check or no blue check… I know my fans still checkin.” Electropop artist Charli XCX reacted, saying, “Officially no longer a verified artist. I love being official and unverified. It’s very me.” And in very typical, meme-heavy fashion, Lil Nas X tweeted a video of Squidward Tentacles asking for spare change. At the time of writing, all three of these brave souls are without a checkmark.
Despite splashy movies like Beau Is Afraid and Evil Dead Rise in theaters Friday, seeing which celebrities will or will not get a checkmark added to their account will remain the most absorbing show of the weekend—especially seeing as though the controversy is only just beginning. Author Stephen King, who has been outspoken against Musk’s control over Twitter, has a checkmark that claims he’s currently subscribed to Twitter Blue—despite King saying he never signed up.
If there’s one thing that’s almost surely true, it’s that Musk’s former paramour, Grimes, is probably an authentic Twitter Blue subscriber. After all, her most recent tweet includes a photo of a SpaceX rocket, with the caption, “Starships will take us to other worlds.” Though they might disagree about Twitter verification, Gimres and Nicki Minaj can agree on one thing: Starships are meant to fly.