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Twitter made good on its promise to remove legacy verification badges from users Thursday, but the company’s CEO, Elon Musk, appears desperate enough to keep some top users — including LeBron James, Stephen King and William Shatner — on the platform by paying for their Twitter Blue subscriptions.
In a tweet shared Thursday afternoon, Musk said he was “paying for a few [subscriptions] personally” in response to a story from The Verge that noted the NBA star was not paying for Twitter Blue but had been offered a complimentary subscription from Musk. He later clarified that he was only doing this for James, King and Shatner. A source close to James, who has maintained the blue verification badge on his Twitter account, told The Hollywood Reporter that the NBA star had not responded to the email to accept the comped subscription.
Musk says he did the same for King, who tweeted earlier Thursday that he was not paying for Twitter Blue and did not offer a phone number to verify his identity, despite his account retaining a blue check. In response to King, Musk wrote, “You’re welcome namaste 🙏”
Shatner and Ice-T, who have notably spoken out against Musk’s approach to paid verification, also maintained their blue checks, though it’s not immediately clear if Musk had also offered Ice-T a complimentary subscription. (Representatives for King, Shatner and Ice-T did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)
But the same can’t be said for other notable figures. By Thursday afternoon, the accounts for Kim Kardashian, Beyoncé, Tom Cruise, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, John Oliver, Bill Gates and The Pope had all lost their verification badges. Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was also a casualty of the mass removals.
Alex Weprin contributed to this report.
April 21, 7:30 a.m. This story has been updated to clarify which accounts Musk is offering complimentary Twitter Blue subscriptions to.
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