April 20 (Reuters) – Twitter began removing legacy blue checkmarks from user profiles on Thursday, with popular figures including pop icon Beyonce and Pope Francis losing their verified statuses.
Some personalities, such as basketball star LeBron James and author Stephen King, still had their verification marks.
“The Shining” author King previously tweeted that Musk was a good fit for Twitter: “My Twitter account says I’m subscribed to Twitter Blue. I’m not. My Twitter account says I gave a phone number. I’m not.”
Musk tweeted back at him: “Welcome to you Namaste,” with a folded arms emoji.
James, who had previously said he would not pay for the check, did not pay by postmarking the check, The Verge reported.
Musk tweeted separately: “I’m personally paying some people.” He then tweeted “Just Shatner, LeBron and King,” a reference to Star Trek actor William Shatner, who complained last month that he was forced to pay with his blue check mark.
Among those who lost their badges were former US President Donald Trump, Microsoft Corp ( MSFT.O ) co-founder Bill Gates and reality TV star Kim Kardashian.
Under Musk’s ownership, Twitter has replaced the blue verification badges it previously issued to famous people, journalists, executives, politicians and companies after they verified their identities. They served as a symbol of authenticity.
Musk said in November that Twitter would begin charging $8 per month for the badge in an effort to launch new revenue streams beyond advertising.
The company issued check marks in other colors – gold for businesses and a gray for government and multilateral organizations and officials.
It has started displaying labels such as “Government Linked” and “By Auto” against accounts to show whether an account is government-linked or a bot.
American nonprofit National Public Radio (NPR) stopped posting content on its 52 official Twitter feeds, after Twitter labeled it “state-affiliated media” and later “government-sponsored media”.
Public broadcaster Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) suspended its operations on Twitter and clashed with Musk over Twitter’s definition of government funding.
Yuvraj Malik reports in Bangalore; Editing by Stephen Coates
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