Musk’s X/Twitter grants “verified” status to Hezbollah terrorists

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Elon Musk’s platform X, previously known as Twitter, has come under scrutiny for providing premium services, including verification, to accounts associated with controversial groups and individuals, including leaders of Hezbollah and other entities sanctioned by the United States. This report by the Tech Transparency Project (TTP) highlights the platform’s approach to free speech, which extends services such as boosted content and longer posts to a wide array of users, regardless of their affiliations.

Accounts belonging to leaders of Hezbollah, Iran-backed militants, Houthi Rebels, and Russian state media received blue and gold checkmarks, indicating their premium subscription status. This is despite U.S. sanctions against these groups, which prohibit U.S. entities from doing business with them.

Following the investigation, the blue check mark for Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah and other terrorist leaders named in the report appears to have been removed. This action was confirmed through screenshots captured on the internet archive.

The gold check mark, which signifies a “Verified Organization,” was available for $1,000 a month at the time of the TTP’s research (now reduced to $200 a month). Iranian state media Press TV, also under U.S. sanctions, had such a verification before it was removed.

The investigation found that ads were appearing in replies to many of these sanctioned accounts, raising concerns about the association of reputable publications and companies with controversial content.

The report underscores the challenges and controversies surrounding X’s policies on free speech and verification. The platform’s approach has led to significant backlash, including a departure of advertisers following a previous investigation into inappropriate content appearing next to ads from major brands.

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