High-Profile Celebrities are Refusing to Pay for Twitter Blue

Russell Kidson
Apr 3, 2023
Updated • Apr 3, 2023

With so many celebrities refusing to pay for Twitter Blue, what is the future for them on the platform?


Twitter has revealed that it will be discontinuing the use of the verification badge, also known as the blue tick, on older accounts as part of its efforts to promote Twitter Blue, a subscription service. In the past, Twitter had verified users who met specific criteria, but the process was not always transparent and has been accused of being prejudiced. Currently, the process for obtaining a verification badge is straightforward - users must simply subscribe to Twitter Blue on a monthly basis, which not only grants access to the badge but also provides other useful features.

It seems that some users who were previously verified through the previous, laborious process are dissatisfied and have chosen not to subscribe to Twitter Blue for $8. This is due to the recent announcement by Twitter's new owner, Elon Musk, that all users must pay for the subscription after April 1st to keep their verified badge.

Several prominent figures, such as LeBron James, who boasts 52 million followers and is the highest-paid NBA player ever, have publicly expressed their discontent with Musk's new policy. In a tweet, James stated, "Welp guess my blue check mark will be gone soon cause if you know me, I ain’t paying the 5."

William Shatner, a Canadian actor famous for his role in the Star Trek series and who has 2.5 million Twitter followers, has also voiced his opposition to paying for Twitter Blue to keep his verified badge. He stated, "So now you're telling me that I have to pay for something that you previously gave me for free? What is this - the Columbia Records & Tapes Club?"

According to Axios, the White House in the US has also declined to pay for the verified badge. Rob Flaherty, the director of digital strategy at the White House, stated in an email that Twitter Blue does not offer person-level verification as a service. He went on to say that "a blue check mark will now simply serve as a verification that the account is a paid user." However, profiles of government officials are expected to feature a grey badge to help identify "state" accounts.

Related: Here’s how the Twitter algorithm works

Several major international news outlets, including the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Politico, Vox, and BuzzFeed, have all released statements indicating that they will not be subscribing to Twitter Blue. Additionally, The New York Times has declined to pay for the subscription and as a result, Twitter has removed the verification badge from their profile.

Nathan Hubbard, a former employee of Twitter who left the company in 2016, has expressed concerns about Musk's decision to remove verification badges as a way to promote Twitter Blue. According to Hubbard, this strategy is "risky" since nearly all engagement on Twitter is generated by "tweets from high-profile people/organizations."

In a recent tweet, Nathan Hubbard expressed his belief that some currently verified users may not actually deserve the verification badge. He acknowledged that there is a small percentage of users who obtained the badge simply for the status symbol, but he believes the impact to the platform is minimal. Hubbard stated that any type of designation like this is inevitably subject to human judgement.

Elon Musk has been vocal about his desire for all Twitter users to feel equal. He has stated that paying for a feature like the verified badge, which guarantees a status symbol, is a way to ensure equality among users.

Does it matter that celebrities aren’t unanimously supporting Twitter Blue?

The recent decision of notable celebrities like William Shatner and LeBron James to refuse to pay for Twitter Blue could potentially have long-term consequences for the platform. While these celebrities represent a small fraction of Twitter's user base, they hold considerable sway over their followers and the wider public.

If more verified users follow suit and refuse to pay for Twitter Blue, it may force Twitter to reconsider its decision to remove verification badges from legacy accounts. Additionally, if enough high-profile users opt out of the subscription service, it could lead to a decline in engagement on the platform, which could negatively impact Twitter's financial performance.

However, it's important to keep in mind that Twitter Blue is a new offering, and it's unclear how popular it will be among users. If Twitter Blue ends up being successful and attracts a significant number of paying subscribers, the decision of a few prominent celebrities not to pay may not significantly impact the platform's overall success.

Regardless of the outcome, this situation highlights the potential influence that celebrities and other notable figures hold over social media platforms. Companies may need to consider the opinions and actions of these individuals when making decisions that could affect their user base and financial performance.

Is the era of the Twitter influencer over? 

The recent launch of Twitter Blue, a subscription-based service with additional features, has sparked discussions about how it will impact Twitter influencers. These individuals have amassed large followings on the platform through their content or expertise and are often approached by brands to promote their products or services to their followers.

While it remains uncertain whether Twitter Blue will ultimately lead to the decline of Twitter influencers, it's clear that the platform is aiming to broaden its sources of revenue beyond advertising. By offering exclusive features to subscribers, Twitter hopes to persuade users to pay for a premium experience.

It's worth noting that Twitter influencers do not rely solely on the platform's advertising revenue to generate income. Many influencers earn money through sponsorships and partnerships with brands, as well as through their own products and services. While the introduction of Twitter Blue may impact the relationship between influencers and their followers, it's unlikely to completely eliminate the influencer phenomenon.

The launch of Twitter Blue could serve as a warning for social media influencers on other platforms. As social media companies explore ways to broaden their revenue streams and lessen their reliance on advertising, they may introduce subscription-based models or other premium features that necessitate payment from users. This may make it more challenging for influencers to connect with and engage their followers, particularly if they are unable to afford the cost of these premium features.

Change is coming for the social media industry

The rise of Twitter Blue as a subscription service is unlikely to spell the end of the Twitter influencer phenomenon, but it may signal a shift in the way that influencers generate income and interact with their followers. It remains to be seen whether social media influencers on other platforms will face a similar fate, but it's clear that the influencer industry will continue to evolve in response to changes in the social media landscape.


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  1. Anonymous said on April 23, 2023 at 11:58 pm

    Best paid NBA player and that other famous actor refuse to pay 8 dollars for verification work ? Sounds like April’s fool.

    Do you know what big tech companies ask yearly to non profit benevolent developers just not to be banned as malware from the beginning ?

  2. RJ said on April 4, 2023 at 4:44 am

    The obsession with Twitter, Musk and the tones of the articles rooting for its failure continues.
    Sad to see from Ghacks which was once on of my favorite Tech sources to read.

  3. Sunkast said on April 4, 2023 at 1:15 am

    Don’t fricken care about celebs refusing to pay for Twitter Blue. Ghacks is quickly becoming yet another trash fake tech news site.

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