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X/Twitter seems to be verifying terrorists - researchers found about 30 under-sanctioned individuals with "blue checks"

X/Twitter seems to be verifying terrorists - researchers found about 30 under-sanctioned individuals with "blue checks"
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The text is about the leaders of the Hezbollah party, which is recognized as a terrorist organization in the United States, the son of Muammar Gaddafi, and accounts related to the Houthis.

According to the report of the non-profit organization Tech Transparency Project (TTP), about 30 accounts with "blue checkmarks" have been identified, supposedly belonging to sanctioned individuals. Here are a few of them:

  • The account of Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah - with over 93,000 followers and a "verified" label (meaning the owner provided X with a government-issued ID).
  • The Iranian state media agency Press TV (one of the two accounts with "gold checkmarks" - the other being Russian "Tinkoff Bank"). The cost of such a premium checkmark reaches $1000 per month.
  • Al-Saadi Gaddafi, son of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who was also subscribed to by Elon Musk for a while.
  • Ansar Allah - the Yemeni group better known as the Houthis.

TTP notes that most of the accounts were verified after Elon Musk acquired Twitter and offered a paid subscription (only ten paid to keep the "old" checkmarks they had previously received).

X did not comment on the report, but it appears to have removed almost all the mentioned "blue checkmarks" (the "gold" ones still appear on the pages of Press TV and "Tinkoff Bank"), and has blocked several accounts (including a page associated with the Harakat al-Nujaba group, supported by Iran).

"X has a reliable and secure approach to our monetization features, complying with legal obligations and independent verification. Several accounts listed in the Technology Transparency Report are not specifically listed in the sanctions lists, while some others that fall under sanctions may have visible checkmarks on their accounts without receiving any services," X later noted in response to The Verge's request.

US companies are prohibited from conducting economic transactions with individuals and organizations on sanction lists - a similar prohibition exists in X's policy regarding subscription sales. TTP notes that it is possible, although unlikely, that the social network gave blue checkmarks to terrorist groups for free, or they obtained them deceitfully.

Before Musk's acquisition, the social network (still under the name Twitter) was involved in legal scandals for allegedly supporting terrorists. The family of a victim of an attack by the "Islamic State" accused Twitter of not banning accounts associated with the group - the case is currently pending in the Supreme Court.

Another issue is whether the social network accepted money (even if it was only $8 a month) for a subscription from people with whom financial transactions are prohibited.

According to another study from last year, after Musk acquired and took over Twitter in October 2022, the number of anti-Semitic posts on the platform more than doubled. The billionaire himself denied accusations of anti-Semitism, attempted to sue the Anti-Defamation League, and called himself a Jew by calling.

Meanwhile, due to conflicting messages with the social network, dozens of major companies (including Apple and Disney) have ceased advertising cooperation - Musk publicly told them off in response.

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