Twitter adds a verified tag to dead celebrities
- Twitter added verified checks to accounts of dead celebrities to promote Twitter Blue subscriptions.
- Kobe Bryant, Anthony Bourdain, Chadwick Boseman and Michael Jackson each received a posthumous check.
- Their accounts said they had purchased a Twitter Blue subscription and verified their phone numbers.
Dead 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 the celebrities who each had a posthumous blue check added to their Twitter accounts as the site began purging older verifications on Thursday, shifting to only showing the checks on profiles that pay for the subscription service.
Boseman’s former manager and an attorney for the Bryant family did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.
While Musk has not mentioned the deceased celebrity accounts with the brand online, he appeared to acknowledge reports that he mocked leaders of the #BlockTheBlue campaign, a viral Twitter crusade to silence Twitter Blue subscribers by blocking them . In a tweet responding to reports that he had given leaders of the anti-Blue movement Verified Blue their own badges, wrote with a laughing emoji: “A troll, me??”
On their profiles, as of Saturday night, the brand clearly indicates that the deceased celebrities had subscribed to Twitter Blue and verified their phone numbers. While someone controlling the celebrities’ estates could, in theory, have verified the celebrities, accounts like Bourdain’s have lain dormant in the years since their deaths, with the only change being the Verified Blue badge.
According to a report from TechCrunch, the relaunch of Twitter Blue – with perks like an edit button and new “verified” badge, previously seen by the public as a status symbol for celebrities and now available for purchase by anyone – has been “underwhelming,” the social media platform earned just $11 million in mobile subscriptions since Musk took it back in December.
Twitter Blue, available for $8 a month, has drawn few new subscribers since its relaunch — according to estimates from programmer Travis Brown, fewer than 600,000 accounts pay for the service. And while campaigns to block people with paid verification badges have appeared on the site, the celebrity endorsements appear to be an attempt to promote the unpopular service, users speculated.
However, the posthumous Twitter Blue badges may violate laws protecting consumers from false endorsements. In California Civil Code 3344.1, any person who uses a deceased person’s name, voice, signature or likeness – in any way – for the purpose of advertising or selling products, goods or services without the person’s consent is liable for $750 or the amount of actual damages suffered, depending on which is greater.
“Considering that the blue check says someone subscribes to twitter blue and pays for a product, and falsely adds that large accounts could constitute a deceptive trade practice,” Alejandra Caraballo, a clinical instructor at the Harvard Law Cyberlaw Clinic, tweetedadding, “Anyone who provided this without their approval could have grounds to make a false claim of approval. That would be separate from an FTC investigation into deceptive trade practices.”
The Twitter press email automatically responded with a poop emoji to Insider’s request for comment. Musk did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.