After months of seemingly empty threats to rid Twitter of its verified accounts, Elon Musk has finally purged the platform of its “legacy” blue ticks.
The multi-billionaire announced plans to move the checkmarks behind a paywall shortly after his $44bn (£38bn) takeover last October, though an embarrassing episode that left the platform awash with accounts posing as celebrities brands, and politicians put the changes on hold.
But Musk wielded the axe on Thursday and some of the world’s most high-profile figures were affected, including Beyonce, JK Rowling, Justin Bieber, and even the Pope.
Now, the morning after has revealed some of the famous pop stars, actors, and sporting icons who have stumped up the cash (up to £11 a month in the UK) – or had a helping hand – to stay blue.
The Three Musketeers
Star Trek‘s William Shatner, NBA legend LeBron James, and author Stephen King have kept their blue ticks at the behest of Musk himself.
James and King had both said they would not pay for the necessary Twitter Blue subscription.
When it emerged that King had remained verified post-cull, he tweeted: “My Twitter account says I’ve subscribed to Twitter Blue. My Twitter account says I’ve given a phone number. I haven’t.”
Musk revealed that he is “personally paying” for some celebrities to stay verified.
“Just Shatner, LeBron and King,” he tweeted.
Film and TV stars
Should there be another Marvel civil war – perhaps the dividing line will be who’s paid for a Twitter checkmark.
While Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evans are tickless, Chris Hemsworth, Ryan Reynolds, and Hugh Jackman remain verified.
Also still verified are comedians Eddie Izzard and Neil Patrick Harris.
Two of America’s most famous chat show hosts are also paying up – Ellen DeGeneres and Jimmy Fallon.
But there’s another divide when it comes to wrestlers turned actors, with Dwayne Johnson tickless but John Cena keeping his.
Taylor Swift‘s breakups are the stuff of musical folklore, and it appears she’s not quite ready to say goodbye to her Twitter checkmark just yet.
Ed Sheeran‘s account stands out with a gold checkmark – he is a pretty big deal, but these were supposed to be for verified organisations and business, rather than individuals.
Other music stars who still have a tick include Rihanna, The Weeknd, Coldplay, Cardi B, and Miley Cyrus.
Britney Spears is also still verified, despite an apparent attempt to hide it among some emojis.
Men’s world tennis number one Novak Djokovic has kept his tick, unlike the Serb’s long-time rivals Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Britain’s Andy Murray.
In fact, the tennis world exposes a fine example of the slightly nonsensical approach to verification under Musk.
A search for Nadal reveals while his account is now unverified, a fan account does have the checkmark once used to help people work out which profiles were authentic and affiliated with famous figures.
Jude Bellingham appears to be the only England footballer still verified, though he has his German club side Borussia Dortmund to thank for that.
And Gary Lineker has also kept his tick, so you know it’s definitely him should he get into trouble with the BBC again.
Among the other well-known figures paying for Twitter Blue are YouTube influencers Logan and Jake Paul, Spotify podcast host Joe Rogan, and Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
Khloe Kardashian has also signed up, unlike her sisters.
Money saving expert Martin Lewis is also paying, as he fears scammers could impersonate him otherwise.
Musk himself of course keeps a blue tick through his affiliation with Twitter, as do other company employees.
Pre-takeover, Twitter had about 300,000 verified users under the original blue tick system, which required users to prove they were who they said they were.