The account verification system on Elon Musk’s Twitter looked like it couldn’t get any more incomprehensible, and yet perplexity reigned supreme on Saturday April 22, with blue badges making a comeback on some media accounts or personalities – whether they like it or not. “On my soul I didn’t pay for Twitter Blue, Tesla man you’ll feel my wrath pass!” tweeted American rapper Lil Nas X, whose profile displays the blue check mark.

Formerly free, and a guarantee of authenticity and notoriety, it now means that the user is subscribed to Twitter Blue (for 8 dollars per month) and that his telephone number has been verified by the platform. This Thursday, accounts that had the old blue badge lost it, unless they paid for the new one, following Elon Musk’s strategy put in place this winter to authenticate users and generate new revenue. But a tiny fraction of distinguished former users subscribed – less than 5% of the 407,000 profiles concerned, according to researcher Travis Brown.

On Friday and Saturday, a growing number of personalities found a blue tick, apparently without action on their part, such as writer Stephen King, NBA champion LeBron James or former President Donald Trump. “No means no, guys,” technology journalist Kara Swisher tweeted on Saturday, explaining that she had been “forcibly checked” without her “consent”. “People need to know: does Elon love me for me or for the 1.49 million people who follow me?” she added, an hour after claiming that she would not pay “eight bucks a month for a blue checkmark and blah tools.”

Many authenticated users despite themselves were keen to let it be known that they had nothing to do with it, because the controversial badge has become a symbol of support for Elon Musk. “Please note that I have not subscribed to Twitter Blue, although for some mysterious reason my blue checkmark is showing again,” said author Rick Wilson.

Progressive economist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, who mocked Elon Musk’s “uncontrolled impulsiveness” last July, said on Saturday: “I had nothing to do with it and I’m certainly not paying.” . The Twitter, Tesla and SpaceX boss responded with an image of a baby smeared in tomato sauce, crying over his plate of pasta and wearing a blue checkmark-stamped bib.

This Friday, the leader had indicated that he “paid personally for some subscriptions”. “Checkmate,” he mysteriously tweeted this Saturday, amid speculation. “Musk’s business model is to falsify celebrity endorsements like a box of penis-enlarging pills,” attorney Max Kennerly said.

Accounts of deceased people, such as American chef Anthony Bourdain, have also received the new blue badge. And many official media accounts have it too, even the New York Times, which lost its certification in early April after Elon Musk called the information published there “propaganda”.

Some major news organizations have a gold badge reserved for “verified organizations” that pay at least $1,000 a month. But US public radio NPR and public media group CBC Radio-Canada had still not started tweeting again as of Saturday. These two organizations recently suspended their activities on Twitter in protest against the labels that Twitter had attached to them: “government-funded media” or “state-affiliated”, terms previously reserved for non-independent, government-funded media. autocratic.

On Friday, Elon Musk’s platform removed these labels, including for the official Chinese agency Xinhua (New China) or the Russian RT. “Was the real purpose of all this NPR fuss to help China and Russia? Sounds like: By removing labels from state-controlled media, Twitter is helping propaganda,” Kara Swisher pointed out Saturday morning. AFP did not contact Twitter, which no longer officially responds to the press except with an emoticon in the shape of a poop.