'Elon caved': Some Twitter users are calling out Elon Musk for giving free blue check marks to high-profile celebs and news organizations — even if they refused to pay

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  • Elon Musk has angered some Twitter users by handing out free subscriptions to some high-profile accounts.

  • An overhaul of the legacy verification system was meant to encourage users to pay for a blue check.

  • Some subscribers voiced disappointment; others characterized the move as Musk trolling his critics.

Some Twitter users are calling out Elon Musk for seemingly giving out blue check marks for free to the owners of popular accounts who say they are refusing to pay for Twitter Blue.

Several high-profile Twitter users with 1 million or more followers found their blue checks had been reinstated over the weekend, despite Musk previously telling users that they needed to pay for verification on the platform once legacy checks were purged on April 20.

Ross Gerber, a prominent Tesla shareholder who doesn't have a blue check, tweeted that Musk was "backtracking" on his plans to shake up the verification system by handing out free check marks. Gerber suggested the decision was "exactly the elitist thing" Musk was seeking to avoid.

"When he reversed himself he just looked like a total hypocrite," Gerber told Insider. "And then the way he did it was even worse, because then he gave it to people with at least a million followers, which then created another level of a class system on Twitter."

"This is the beginning of the end of Twitter, unfortunately," he added.

Frustrations went even deeper for some users who had paid for Twitter Blue, the $8 subscription service Musk has introduced to replace Twitter's legacy verification system, which he has accused of being a "lords and peasant system" under past company leadership.

On Sunday, verified Twitter user @JerichoXVI said the freebies for celebrities looked as if "#ElonCaved" by "appeasing the cry babies" who had lost their blue checks, something that the account said "isn't sitting well with the paid subscribers who think it's unfair."


In a tweet on Saturday, verified Twitter account @TheYootopian, which describes itself a "weekly(ish) comic strip," accused Musk of "fostering bad behavior" by giving away free checks to "ultra-rich celebrities."

The U-turn on blue checks has also led to calls from some for existing subscribers to be refunded.

William Bibbiani, a user whose bio says he was formerly verified, tweeted on Sunday that he hoped people paying for a blue check were asking for their money back, while user @kamaalrkhan made a direct appeal to Musk for a refund on Monday.


The frustrations cap a turbulent few days for Musk amid the clampdown on legacy verified accounts. The move is part of Twitter's broader goal to generate meaningful subscription-based revenue through Musk's revamped Twitter Blue program amid a reported decline in advertising revenue.

Musk has banked on Twitter users paying a monthly fee for verification and Twitter Blue, but his antagonistic approach to some of Twitter's most active users, including celebrities and journalists, has led to many declaring that they won't pay.

News organizations including the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and The New York Times have also said that they won't pay for their accounts to be verified, with the Washington Post suggesting that "verified checkmarks no longer represent authority and expertise." Golden check marks were visible on both the LA Times and The New York Times on Monday morning.

Twitter sent an automated response to Insider's request for comment. Insider also contacted the Twitter users quoted in this article about Musk's decision to award free blue checks to certain users, but didn't immediately hear back ahead of publication.

Some users have applauded Musk for relabeling some accounts with a blue check mark, seeing the move as a form of trolling towards users who have been vocal critics of the Twitter chief.

Twitter user Jenna Ellis, who is not verified, tweeted on Sunday that "Elon is trolling the leftists who are terrified now to have a blue check" by now giving them one. Another user tweeted similarly, suggesting Musk was "trolling these babies by buying their blue checks for them."


Musk said he had personally paid for the verification of some accounts such as LeBron James, while blue checks have reappeared on the profile pages of dead celebrities without explanation.

Read the original article on Business Insider