X let terrorist groups pay for verification, report says

According to A, X allowed dozens of sanctioned individuals and groups to pay for premium service From the Technical Transparency Project (TTP). The report raises questions about X’s compliance with US sanctions.

The report found 28 verified accounts of individuals and groups deemed by the US government to be national security threats. The group includes two Hezbollah leaders, accounts linked to the Houthis in Yemen, and Iranian and Russian state media accounts. Of those, 18 were verified after X began charging for verification last spring.

“The fact that X charges users a monthly or annual fee for a premium service indicates that X conducts financial transactions with these accounts, a potential violation of US sanctions,” the report said. As noted by TTP, X states that sanctioned individuals are prohibited from paying for premium services. Some accounts identified by TTP also contained advertisements in their replies, group, “increases the likelihood that they will be able to profit from X’s revenue sharing program.”

Changing Twitter’s verification policy was one of the most significant changes Elon Musk made after taking over the company. Under the new rules, anyone can pay for the blue tick when they subscribe to X Premium. X does not require users to provide identification, and the company sometimes does to shut down imitators.

X offers gold tokens to advertisers as part of its “verified organizations” tier starting at $200 per month. The TTP report found that there were gold checks in accounts belonging to Iran’s Press TV and Russia’s Tinkoff Bank (both sanctioned entities). X is also there gold vouchers to at least 10,000 companies. As the report notes, even awarding gold badges to sanctioned groups may violate US government policy.

X did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the company appears to have removed verification from some of the accounts named in TTP’s report. “X, formerly known as Twitter, has removed the blue check and suspended paid subscriptions to several Iranian media outlets,” Press TV tweeted from its account, which still has a gold check. Accounts of Hezbollah leaders are also no longer verified.

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