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With a mighty hand, and an outstretched arm, Musk scraps Pope's blue tick

Agrees to pay $8 monthly sub for LeBron James, Shatner and Stephen King but others? Nope

In the same day that Elon Musk’s Twitter snubbed the Pope by removing his legacy blue tick despite personally paying for some celebrities to keep theirs, the billionaire’s personal fortune shrank by the biggest amount this year.

Far be it from The Reg to suggest the two things were linked but Musk – seen by some a deity sent down to save humanity and others as a genius asshole – might be playing with forces that, for once, are well out of his control.

The social media biz last night finally started to remove the symbol that was once seen as a platform verification of a user's identity. Now users or organizations are expected to pay $8 a month for this if they sign up via the web or $11 via Apple’s iOS.

Yet like much of the confusion that Musk has brought to Twitter, some retained their tick because Musk likes them or he simply didn’t want to see them leave the platform. One case in point is writer Stephen King, who last year threatened to quit Twitter if he was going to be charged to keep that lovely blue sign.

“My Twitter account says I’ve subscribed to Twitter Blue. I haven’t,” said the novellist yesterday. “My Twitter account says I’ve given a phone number. I haven’t.” The response from Musk was: “You’re welcome namaste.”

The man behind bestsellers including IT, The Shining, Misery and many more then retweeted rapper and Law and Order actor Ice T, who said: “The fact that we’re even discussing Blue Check marks is a Sad moment in society. Smh lol.”

Musk then confirmed he was covering the $8 cost for: “Just Shatner, LeBron and King.” That’s Captain Kirk, the LA Lakers basketball player who said last month he wasn’t going to pay, and the aforementioned horror book scribe.

So now all those high profile people that Musk decided not to subsidize in addition to Pope Francis: there was Microsoft founder Bill Gates, reality TV’s Kim Kardashian, actor Mark Hamill, singer Lady Gaga, former US Prez Donald Trump and more.

Ben Stiller joked: “No blue check, still feel like me” and Musk replied with launching emoji but not everyone found developments funny. Some journalists then noted that a fake account with blue tick had wrongly claimed that Hemedti, the leader of a paramilitary group fighting for control of Sudan, had died while the "actual Rapid Support Forces account is no longer verified."

The Reg’s Twitter tick remains but it is no longer blue but gold to verify us as a legit business account. A grey tick is for government accounts.

The reason for the change is to generate revenue to help Musk pay down the massive debts accumulated from buying Twitter for more than $40 billion in October. He previously claimed Twitter was losing millions, a point not helped by some advertisers abandoning the site when hate speech began increasing.

The man saw $12.6 billion wiped off his fortune yesterday, after a share price slump in Tesla following disappointing results. Yet, he's still worth $164 billion on paper, according to Bloomberg's billionaire's index.

At this point, some might say it looks like he bought Twitter on a wing and a prayer – remember he tried to back out but ultimately couldn't – which makes the snubbing of the Pope all the more confounding.

Or not maybe. ®

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