After chief twit Elon Musk made good on his promise to remove Twitter accounts’ legacy verification blue ticks last week, numerous high-profile accounts now appear to be re-verified — including a number of dead celebrities.
It’s likely that the re-appearance of their blue ticks is part of a wider (but unannounced) scheme by Twitter to restore verification to users with over one million followers. But hover over the blue ticks of the accounts of dead celebs, and Twitter will tell you they’re verified “because they are subscribed to Twitter Blue and verified their phone number.”
Michael Jackson, Chadwick Boseman, Kobe Bryant, Barbara Walters, Anthony Bourdain, and Paul Walker are just a few of the many deceased stars to have regained their verification status. The platform is even claiming that prominent journalist and columnist Jamal Khashoggi is forking over $8 a month despite having been murdered in 2018.
This is the company’s boilerplate message, but in the context it seems insensitive to apply it to the accounts of dead users. In some cases it might be true that the organizations that manage dead users’ accounts have applied for verification (Bosewick’s account, for example, mostly retweets the Chadwick Boseman Foundation for the Arts). But many of the accounts being re-verified have been dormant for years.
Verifying users’ accounts posthumously is also inconsiderate given the blue tick has become an unwanted status for some. A number of celebrities like LeBron James and Stephen King have said they wouldn’t pay for verification status. Instead, Musk himself paid for their ticks — a move that both undermines his claim that paid verification is egalitarian and purposefully antagonizes the high-profile users that create value for his website.
Some users also noted that restoring blue ticks to the accounts of dead celebrities also gives unwarranted prestige to the new paid verification system. Popular user Dril (who has been having his own battle with Twitter trying to get rid of his blue tick) noted: “its ok he fired the people in charge of telling him its illegal” — quote-tweeting a screenshot of the Lanham Act, which forbids false endorsement of goods and services in the US.
In other words, it’s business as normal for the new Twitter: chaos reigns, verified or not.