April 16, 2024

X Under Fire For Granting Verification To Terrorist Groups

X (previously known as Twitter) is under fire for accepting payments and granting the verification mark to terrorist organizations.

The incident was brought to light by the Tech Transparency Project, a non-profit organization that keeps an eye on large social media platforms to ensure that their activities align with government policies.

Shockingly, the Hezbollah profile is labeled as ID-verified which means he must have shown a copy of his government-issued ID and “selfie” to the app for verification.

On February 14, they published a report stating that X provides premium subscription benefits to 28 groups that have been sanctioned by the US, including Hezbollah and Houthi groups. Some media outlets backed by Iran and Russia were also found in the last.

These groups that have been sanctioned are obviously deemed a threat to the US and Elon Musk offering them premium subscriptions on his social media platform has naturally raised concern.

It’s also quite surprising to find these groups on X’s paid plan because its policy clearly states that organizations or groups that have been sanctioned will not be able to make any payments to the social media app.

Hezbollah— the militant group from Lebanon that’s backed by Iran—has a profile under their leader Hassan Nasrallah’s name and it looks like he opted for a paid subscription in November. He already has a massive 93k+ follower base and frequently posts news and memes that show the US in a bad light.

Houthis, a Yemeni group also subscribed to the paid plan this month, just a few weeks after the US declared it will be labeled a terrorist group after its attack in the Red Sea.

We were surprised to find that X was providing premium services to a wide range of groups the US has sanctioned for terrorism and other activities that harm its national security. It’s yet another sign that X has lost control of its platform.Katie Paul, director of the Tech Transparency Project

In response to the incident, representatives of X assured that they would look into the matter and take swift action as per their findings. They also said that the company is committed to creating a safe and compliant platform for its users.

Also, earlier in the day, it was noticed that X had removed the check marks from several accounts mentioned on the list.

How Did These Organizations Get A Paid Subscription?

It’s unclear how these banned organizations got access to a paid plan, considering it clearly violates the apps’ own policies. As of now, we can’t say if X knowingly granted them the checkmark.

However, since Elon Musk took over the platform, they have fired more than 80% of the workforce. Previously, when a profile got a blue checkmark, it was manually vetted by the in-house team, but not anymore. It’s unclear how the process works now.

This isn’t the first time X has gotten in trouble over terrorism-related posts. It narrowly escaped legal accountability in a landmark judgment passed by the Supreme Court in Feb 2023. But repetitive mistakes might make us question how serious X is about US sanctions.

X also came under fire in November, when the same Tech Transparency Project found it profiting from the Israel-Hamas situation through advertisements displayed in replies to posts and subscription fees.

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