- Twitter has added verified checks to the accounts of deceased celebrities to promote Twitter Blue subscriptions.
- Kobe Bryant, Anthony Bourdain, Chadwick Boseman and Michael Jackson each received a posthumous check.
- Their accounts showed that they had purchased a Twitter Blue subscription and verified their phone numbers.
Deceased celebrities are the latest to endorse Twitter Blue — at least according to the verification badges applied to their profiles.
Kobe Bryant, Norm Macdonald, Anthony Bourdain, Chadwick Boseman and Michael Jackson were among celebrities who each had a posthumous blue check added to their Twitter accounts as the site began purging legacy checks on Thursday, pivoting to show only the checks on the profiles that pay for the subscription service.
Although Musk did not mention accounts of deceased celebrities with the badge online, he appeared to acknowledge reports that he had mocked leaders of the #BlockTheBlue campaign, a viral Twitter crusade to silence followers. to Twitter Blue by blocking them. In a tweet responding to reports that he gave leaders of the anti-Blue movement Verified Blue badges, he writing with a laughing emoji: “A troll, me??”
On their profiles, as of Saturday evening, the badge distinctly indicates that the deceased celebrities had subscribed to Twitter Blue and verified their phone numbers. While someone controlling the celebrity estate could, in theory, have verified the celebrities, accounts like Bourdain’s have remained dormant in the years since their death, with the only change being the verified blue badge.
According to a TechCrunch report, the relaunch of Twitter Blue – with perks like an edit button and a new “verified” badge, previously seen by the public as a status symbol for celebrities and now available for purchase by anyone – has been “disappointing,” bringing the social media platform just $11 million in mobile subscriptions since Musk brought it back in December.
Twitter Blue, available for $8 a month, has picked up a few new subscribers since its relaunch – according to programmer Travis Brown’s estimates, fewer than 600,000 accounts are paying for the service. And while campaigns to block people with paid verification badges have emerged on the site, celebrity endorsements appear to be an attempt to market the unpopular service, users have speculated.
However, Twitter’s posthumous blue badges may run afoul of laws protecting consumers from false mentions. In California Civil Code 3344.1, anyone who uses the name, voice, signature, or likeness of a deceased person – in any way – for the purpose of advertising or selling products, goods or services without the person’s consent is liable to $750 or the amount of actual damages suffered, whichever is greater.
“Since the blue check indicates that someone is a subscriber to twitter blue and is paying for a product, falsely adding large accounts can be a deceptive marketing practice,” Alejandra Caraballo, clinical instructor at the Harvard Law Cyberlaw Clinic, tweetedadding, “Anyone who receives this without his approval may have grounds to file a false endorsement request. This would be separate from an FTC investigation into deceptive marketing practices.”
The Twitter press email automatically responded with a poo emoji to Insider’s request for comment. Musk did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.
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