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Elon Musk's X Enabled Terrorist Groups to Purchase Blue Ticks: Report


Elon Musk's social media platform, X, is facing allegations of offering subscriptions and verifications to designated terrorist groups prohibited from operating in the US. The Tech Transparency Project (TTP), a nonprofit organization, conducted an investigation revealing that X had granted blue checkmarks to leaders of a US-designated terrorist group and several other organizations sanctioned by the US government.

The report highlighted that over a dozen X accounts associated with US-sanctioned entities possessed blue checkmarks, which typically require the purchase of a premium subscription. X offers premium accounts various benefits, such as the ability to post longer text and videos, along with increased visibility. The TTP identified 28 accounts, with 18 receiving verification status after April 1, 2023.

Among the flagged accounts were two linked to top leaders of Lebanon-based Hezbollah, as well as others affiliated with Iranian and Russian state-run media. The report raised concerns about potential financial transactions between X and these accounts, suggesting a potential violation of U.S. sanctions.

According to TTP, a blue checkmarked account bearing the name and profile image of Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hezbollah, indicated it was "ID verified," a service X provides to premium subscribers to prevent impersonation.

Additionally, the report pointed out two other accounts for U.S.-sanctioned entities, Iran's Press TV and Russia's Tinkoff Bank, which had gold checkmarks denoting "Verified Organization" status, costing $1,000 per month during TTP's research.

TTP claimed that an account run by Ansar Allah, known as the Houthis, seemingly paid for its blue checkmark. In response, X's safety team defended its "robust and secure approach" to monetization features, stating that accounts listed in the report not directly named on sanction lists would be reviewed.

Following the allegations, X removed the blue checkmarks from the organizations named in the report, including those affiliated with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Feb. 16, 2024 12:11 p.m. 1506

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