Twitter grants blue checks to dead celebrities, sparking fury and confusion

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Twitter Inc. users already having to navigate a flurry of fake accounts after the removal of legacy blue ticks are noticing more inconsistencies: personalities who have been dead for years supposedly holding paid verification accounts.

People were confused after seeing the Twitter profiles of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain and National Basketball Association player Kobe Bryant sporting the blue ticks. Bourdain died in 2018, and Bryant in 2020.

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Others were angered by the addition of blue ticks for profiles of people such as prominent journalist and columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who died in 2018.

While an explanation accompanying the ticks said the “account is verified because they are subscribed to Twitter Blue and verified their phone number,” it was not immediately clear who paid for the $8-a-month service, with the accounts not having been active for years.

Other deceased celebrities’ accounts also sported the blue ticks, such as singer Michael Jackson, comic book artist Stan Lee and actor Chadwick Boseman, although those accounts have been actively managed by others on their behalf.

While no reason for the profiles getting blue ticks were immediately provided, the platform’s billionaire owner, Elon Musk, has previously said he is “personally paying” for the Twitter Blue subscriptions of users including basketball player Lebron James, author Stephen King, and actor William Shatner, who have criticized the paid-subscription’s rollout.

Twitter, which no longer has a communications team, did not meaningfully respond to a request for comment. The platform has also alienated advertisers now required to pay for verification or reach a minimum monthly spend on ads.

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