Deceased Celebrities Endorse Twitter Blue with Posthumous Verification Badges, Sparking Controversy
Twitter’s new subscription service, Twitter Blue, is getting some unexpected celebrity endorsements from beyond the grave. Recently deceased stars including Kobe Bryant, Norm Macdonald, Anthony Bourdain, Chadwick Boseman, and Michael Jackson, were among the accounts to receive posthumous verification badges, indicating that they subscribed to the service and verified their phone numbers.
While these accounts could have been verified by someone controlling the estates, the only change to these accounts has been the addition of the Twitter Blue badge.
The move comes as Twitter pivots to only displaying verification badges on profiles that pay for the subscription service. The relaunch of Twitter Blue, which features perks such as an edit button and the previously exclusive “verified” badge, has reportedly been underwhelming.
The service has brought in only $11 million in mobile-based subscriptions since its launch in December, and has garnered fewer than 600,000 subscribers, according to estimates.
Although the posthumous endorsements may be seen as an attempt to market the unpopular service, it may also run afoul of laws protecting consumers from false endorsements.
Any person who uses a deceased personality’s name, voice, signature, or likeness for purposes of advertising or selling products, goods, or services, without consent from the person is liable for $750 or the amount of actual damages sustained, whichever is greater, under California’s Civil Code 3344.1.
The Twitter press email responded to Insider’s request for comment with a poop emoji, while neither Boseman’s former manager nor a lawyer for the Bryant family responded to requests for comment.
Although Tesla CEO Elon Musk has not mentioned the deceased celebrity accounts, he did appear to acknowledge reports that he mocked leaders of the #BlockTheBlue campaign, a viral Twitter crusade to silence subscribers to Twitter Blue by blocking them.
In a tweet responding to reports that he’d given leaders of the anti-Blue movement Verified Blue badges of their own, he wrote with a laughing emoji: “A troll, me??”
While the celebrity endorsements may be controversial, they have certainly attracted attention to Twitter Blue. However, it remains to be seen whether this attention will translate into new subscribers.
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