Are celebrities really leaving Elon Musk’s Twitter? Some are, but others vow to stay

Separate headshot photos of a woman and a man
In leaving Twitter on Friday evening, Toni Braxton, left, tweeted that she was “shocked and appalled at some of the ‘free speech’ I’ve seen on this platform since its acquisition” the day prior by Elon Musk.
(Jordan Strauss / Associated Press; Taylor Hill / Getty Images)

In the wake of Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover, celebrities are leaving Twitter — but maybe not the flood that would warm critics’ hearts. Some, like author Stephen King, are even engaging with the Tesla founder over rumors about the company’s future plans.

“$20 a month to keep my blue check? F— that, they should pay me. If that gets instituted, I’m gone like Enron,” King tweeted Monday.

Musk replied to King late that night, tweeting, “We need to pay the bills somehow! Twitter cannot rely entirely on advertisers. How about $8? I will explain the rationale in longer form before this is implemented. It is the only way to defeat the bots & trolls.”


The SpaceX founder, whose Twitter bio now reads “Twitter Complaint Hotline Operator,” announced something closer to the real plan Tuesday.

Billionaire Elon Musk is already floating major changes for Twitter as he begins his first week as owner of the social media platform. Verified users may soon be asked to pay $20 per month for the privilege.

Oct. 31, 2022

“Twitter’s current lords & peasants system for who has or doesn’t have a blue checkmark is bulls—. Power to the people! Blue for $8/month,” Musk wrote in a series of tweets. “Price adjusted by country proportionate to purchasing power parity. You will also get: - Priority in replies, mentions & search, which is essential to defeat spam/scam - Ability to post long video & audio - Half as many ads. And paywall bypass for publishers willing to work with us. This will also give Twitter a revenue stream to reward content creators.”

He appeared to be mixing Twitter’s blue-check Verified system and its Twitter Blue paid subscription, which to this point has offered “the most engaged people on Twitter exclusive access to premium features” — including Undo Tweet, bookmark folders, ad-free articles and a thread reader — for $4.99 a month.

“[T]his will destroy the bots,” Musk wrote in a reply to a user. “If a paid Blue account engages in spam/scam, that account will be suspended. Essentially, this raises the cost of crime on Twitter by several orders of magnitude.”

Those not staying around to experience the new owner’s changes include Shonda Rhimes, Ken Olin, Sara Bareilles and Toni Braxton, who all declared Friday and Saturday that they were bailing on the bird platform.


Musk tweets a link to an unfounded conspiracy theory about Paul Pelosi to millions, showing that Twitter has become a powerful tool of right-wing attacks.

Oct. 30, 2022

“Not hanging around for whatever Elon has planned. Bye,” producer and showrunner Rhimes tweeted Saturday.

“Welp. It’s been fun Twitter. I’m out. See you on other platforms, peeps. Sorry, this one’s just not for me,” singer Bareilles tweeted Friday.

“I’m shocked and appalled at some of the ‘free speech’ I’ve seen on this platform since its acquisition,” singer Braxton tweeted the same day. “Hate speech under the veil of ‘free speech’ is unacceptable; therefore I am choosing to stay off Twitter as it is no longer a safe space for myself, my sons and other POC.”

Olin wrote Friday, “Hey all — I’m out of here. No judgement. Let’s keep the faith. Let’s protect our democracy. Let’s try to be kinder. Let’s try to save the planet. Let’s try to be more generous. Let’s look to find peace in the world.”

None of their accounts have been deleted, however. But “Bill & Ted” actor Alex Winter followed through on his threat to bail on the platform. His @winter account has been deleted.

“Elon Musk taking over Twitter and making it a private company with less oversight has immediately made the platform more prone to hate speech, targeted attacks, and the spread of disinformation,” Winter said in an email to NBC News. “If Twitter returns to being a public company run by rational actors, many of us will return.”

Days after taking over Twitter, Elon Musk posted and later deleted an unfounded conspiracy theory on the suspect in the attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband.

Oct. 30, 2022

Bette Midler criticized Musk’s Twitter takeover Saturday and predicted the site would “instantly devolve into #RadioRwanda.” But on Monday and Tuesday, she was promoting “Hocus Pocus 2” and arguing in favor of abortion rights.

Some, however, were likening the Great Elon Musk Twitter Exodus to the Great Donald Trump Emigration that was promised if former President Trump won the White House but never materialized once he was in office.

“Oh so you’re leaving twitter if Elon Musk buys it? Just like you left America after Trump won?” conservative actor Kevin Sorbo tweeted Oct. 23, ahead of Musk’s takeover.

Comic Terrence K. Williams tweeted succinctly Monday, “I’m not leaving Twitter.”

Free speech is about more than spewing your opinions. It’s also about the right to persuade, to listen and to be heard. That can’t happen on Twitter if Musk lets disinformation run wild.

Oct. 27, 2022

Actor-writer Jim Beaver said he is staying, but for different reasons. “I’m not leaving Twitter, not under current circumstances,” the “Supernatural” alum tweeted late Monday. “I prefer to be a voice in the wilderness rather than to relinquish the field to the forces of fascism, anarchy, hysteria, or bad taste in movies. If I lose my blue check, so what? I was here for years without it.”

“Madam Secretary” actor Téa Leoni seemed to be taking a wait-and-see approach, tweeting Saturday, “Hi everyone. I’m coming off Twitter today—let’s see where we are when the dust settles. Today the dust has revealed too much hate, too much in the wrong direction. Love, kindness, and possibilities for all of you, thank you, xoxtéa.”

“If you guys are leaving Twitter because a rich a— now owns it, I’ve got some big news for you about the last person who owned Twitter,” “Adam Ruins Everything” and late-night writer Mike Drucker tweeted last Thursday.

Director and political activist Rob Reiner, meanwhile, was encouraging people to stay and fight the good fight in 280 characters or less. At least for a while.

Musk’s Twitter plans remain a mystery, leaving users, advertisers and employees to parse his every move to guess where he might take the company.

Oct. 28, 2022

“Just hours after taking control of this platform, its owner spread crackpot conspiracy theories about the attempted murder of Speaker Pelosi,” Reiner tweeted Monday. “Now is not the time to leave. Now is the time to fight for our Democracy. Vote blue. Hold the Congress. Then explore options.”

Reiner remained despite a shot that singer John Rich of country duo Big & Rich fired at him over the weekend.

“Rob, didn’t you say you were leaving Twitter if @elonmusk took it over? I, for one hope you stay,” Rich tweeted Saturday at Reiner. “You are a constant reminder as to how deranged Hollywood is. You are important to the public discourse! Without your constant insanity, people might forget how whacko you ppl are:).”