About 140,000 people paid $8 for a Twitter Blue subscription between November 10 and 15, according to the New York Times.
The Times cited data from Travis Brown, a software developer in Berlin, who found over 137,000 accounts with Twitter Blue subscriptions between November 10 and 15 using a computer program. The program downloaded data including user’s following lists, screen time, the date they joined Twitter, and verification status.
Brown found that the typical Twitter Blue subscriber had around 560 followers but some had over a million including Mika Salamanca, a YouTube creator with 3.9 million Twitter followers; Arabic news site, Alwatan News with 2.7 million followers, and several adult film performers.
Many Twitter Blue subscribers were far-right influencers like Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse, Libs of TikTok, and Catturd2.
Brown’s data showed that thousands of subscribers were linked to around 5,000 far-right Twitter accounts that had been flagged for pushing extremist ideas and some were also listed by Cornell University for posting conspiracy theories about election fraud.
Twitter and Travis Brown did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the data outside normal working hours.
Musk’s Twitter Blue subscription rollout has been marked by chaos the past month. The $7.99 subscription feature was initially launched on November 5th, a day after Musk laid off 50% of the company’s roughly 8,000 employees.
Upon its rollout a number of trolls abused the blue checkmark and impersonated high-profile figures like George W. Bush, Tony Blair, and O.J. Simpson. Companies like Volkswagen, Audi, Pfizer and more were spooked by this and halted advertising on the platform. Following this, Musk revoked the paid verification system on November 6.
The chaos continued with Musk making the feature available again on November 11, before revoking it on the same day. Musk later said that he planned to relaunch Blue verified on November 29.
On Monday, Musk said the Twitter Blue relaunch is on hold till the platform can resolve impersonation issues with “high confidence.”