It all spells trouble for Musk, whose platform continues to descend into an uninhabitable right-wing fever swamp (quite frankly, it already can be fairly defined as such). Don’t just take my word for it, either. The evidence is plain as day in Musk’s own public actions. The billionaire has grown so desperate to lure back one-time power users, he is reversing course on what was his rallying cry against the elites.

In the latest overhaul of the platform formerly known as Twitter, some influential accounts were surprised and appalled to find that a free blue checkmark had been added to their profiles Wednesday.

Owner Elon Musk, who has instigated a series of dramatic and controversial redsesigns to the social media site, announced the change last month. “Going forward, all X accounts with over 2,500 verified subscriber followers will get Premium features for free and accounts with over 5000 will get Premium+ for free,” the billionaire said, referring to services that otherwise respectively cost $8 and $16 a month.”

Judge Tears Apart Musk’s Lawsuit Over Hate Speech on X

 

The policy change appears to have come into effect on Wednesday—prompting bewilderment among some users and outright fury in others.

“Yo, Elon, take this blue check and scratch your taint with the long end of it. Does anyone out there know how to turn this fucker off?” wrote David Simon, the creator of The Wire. He also slammed statistics savant Nate Silver for questioning the sincerity of those expressing outrage at their restored checkmarks.

“Fuck right off,” Simon raged. “[Musk] devalued its meaning and purpose in every sense and made it a symbol of the worst kind of rank trollery. Now he wants to give it back whether we want it or not? It’s permissible to tell the guy to piss on his shoes.”

“What’s with the random blue check I didn’t ask for or pay for?” MSNBC host Katie Phang asked. “I didn’t pay for mine either,” Star Wars actor Mark Hamill replied. “People: please don’t judge for my complimentary blue check.”

American Fiction star Jeffrey Wright shared a screenshot of a message informing him of his new “complimentary subscription to X Premium.” “Translation: Pay $8? Kidding,” the Oscar nominee wrote. “Help me. But don’t say anything too free speechy about me or my Garbage Tower of Babel shitsite.”

“The block feature is the best feature on this site. It is what enables me to enjoy my time here,” Mollie Hemingway, the editor-in-chief of conservative news site The Federalist whose account has 1 million followers, wrote.

A verified account called X News Daily, which shares often-favorable updates on Musk and X, also said the move went “altogether too far,” highlighting the “significant problem” of “harassment, trolls and spam” while acknowledging the potential downside of “cutting off people who disagree with you politically.”

“That is a huge mistake. There are toxic people on this platform that users simply don’t want in their replies,” @WallStreetSilv, another Musk fan account with nearly 1 million followers, tweeted. “Block is a critical peace of mind issue for many people because it generally gets the cyber stalkers to move on.”

X said the defendants tried to use those findings to persuade advertisers to withhold spending on the platform. The company claimed it lost tens of millions of dollars as a result.

 

The CCDH, meanwhile, declared in public statements that the litigation was “a direct assault on our free speech, with the aim of running up legal costs, distracting us from our work, and deterring others from reporting on X.” The nonprofit noted that it was represented by Roberta Kaplan, who secured massive judgments against Donald Trump in his defamation battle with writer E. Jean Carroll.

Musk acquired X, formerly known as Twitter, in late 2022and he has since faced scrutiny for his allegedly capricious management style and for laying off the vast majority of the firm’s staffers; to some critics, the remaining skeleton crew are less equipped to rein in hate speech and other abuses.

Musk has insisted the platform is thriving and performing better than ever, financially and otherwise.

Gone are the days when Musk poked the journalists and celebrity class about paying him $8 a month. Now, Musk is so desperate to see their return, he’s willing to crown them with the blue badge and restore their accounts to “lord” status. That says it all.