It’s been a dumber than average couple of days on Twitter of late—and yeah, we know, low bar to clear—as Elon Musk’s 4/20 edict to remove “legacy” verification marks finally went into effect. (Those were the ones distributed once upon a time to users to clarify that they were who they said they were, as opposed to the current system, which uses the blue check to tag paid subscribers to the Twitter Blue service for relentless avoidance.) Shortly after the Great Purge, though, several famous people began noticing that they somehow had a blue check mark anyway, complete with a false statement that they’d paid for Twitter Blue and “verified their phone number” to get the mark. It started with a few people—William Shatner, LeBron James, Stephen King—and has since spread to a number of big-name, high-follower accounts.
In his various irritating-to-parse tweets about this stuff—interspersed with videos of his rocket launches that typically omit the bits where the rockets subsequently explode—Musk has said he’s “paying for” some celebrities’ Blue accounts himself. This is typically presented, with Elon Musk’s general “lurked on the Something Awful forums but wasn’t funny enough to actually post” approach to online humor, as an act of sublime trolling of his critics. (Without questioning the basic assumption that Musk is basically admitting that his much-ballyhooed feature operates functionally as a mark of shame for an enormous number of people.) The end result has been folks like Patton Oswalt looking for ways to get rid of the blue mark, usually by, reportedly, briefly changing their display name or avatar to juke the verification system.
The most prominent such user today has, unsurprisingly, been dril, who remains, in many ways, the strange, grotesquely beating heart of Twitter. The massively popular online comedian—who recently did an interview out-of-character for the first time, and who currently has 1.7 million followers on Twitter—has had a blue check appear and disappear multiple times on his account today, amidst tweeting out a series of harsh insults to Musk. Most recently, retweeting a post about the Lanham Act, which covers false attempts to make someone look like they endorse a product—and if us learning about U.S. copyright law from a dril tweet isn’t the ultimate indicator of how dumb today has been, we don’t know what is.
Wait, actually, we do: It’s seeing the “subscribed to Twitter Blue and verified their phone number” language on the account of late actors and performers like Chadwick Boseman and Norm Macdonald, where it popped up today along with the returned checks. Current speculation is that blue checks—and possibly just Twitter Blue itself—are being given to anyone with more than 1 million followers on the service. But there’s a special kind of irritation that comes from seeing beloved dead celebrities get co-opted into this effort as Elon Musk continues to assert, yet again, that he’s not owned, he’s not owned.