Musk's social media platform accused of accepting money from terrorist groups for blue ticks

Elon Musk's social media platform is facing serious allegations. X appears to have received money for blue ticks from terrorist groups and other organizations banned from operating in the United States, the BBC reports.

X withdrew some ticks after the TTP report. PHOTO Profimedia (Archive)

The discovery was made by the Tech Transparency Project (TTP). According to the cited source, blue ticks also received some accounts of people who are part of the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah.

Those who want to have a blue tick must pay 8 dollars monthly. People with this checkmark have the opportunity to post longer material and benefit from better promotion.

“A threat to national security”

In addition, X, formerly of Twitter, removed some ticks after the TTP report, stating that its security measures are “solid”.

US billionaire Elon Musk's decision to implement the blue tick tax was one of the most controversial changes he made after acquiring Twitter in 2022. Some critics said the decision would worsen misinformation problems .

Before Musk implemented this measure, the checkmark was free, meant to indicate that the social media platform had verified the identity of the person behind the account.

Many of those ticked off were journalists, but also world leaders and celebrities. In other cases, those individuals included individuals subject to US sanctions, leading to the firm being convicted of providing inappropriate access to individuals and accused of violating US sanctions law.

However, given that currently the tick can be obtained for a fee, “X could raise new legal issues“, reported the Tech Transparency Project.

The TTP revealed that an account, which has more than 23,000 followers, run by Ansar Allah, known as the Houthis, allegedly paid for the blue tick. It has now been removed. The group is sanctioned in both the United States and the United Kingdom. The British government states on its website that it sanctioned the group for “to disrupt the ability to attack international shipping in the Red Sea and to promote the peace, stability and security of Yemen“.

The United States imposes sanctions on individuals, groups, and countries deemed to be a threat to national security. X, Elon Musk's company, appears to be selling premium services to some of these“, the report from the TTP states.

X “lost control”

An account with a blue checkmark bearing the name and profile picture of Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hezbollah, also indicates that it is “ID verified,” a service X offers premium subscribers as a way to prevent using a false identity. X requires users to present a government-issued ID and a selfie to be verified this way, though it's unclear if Nasrallah did so“, the report also states.

In a post published on X, the company's team that deals with the security of the platform, stated that the subscription process “comply with legal obligations” and has been independently verified by X's payment providers.

Several of the accounts listed in the Tech Transparency Report are not directly mentioned on the sanctions lists, while others may have visible signs of account verification without receiving services that would be subject to sanctions“, X conveyed, adding that the company will “take action if necessary” after analyzing the TTP report.

The TTP responded to the post, stating that while some of the organizations were not on the US sanctions list, they were owned by entities subject to US sanctions.

TTP director Katie Paul told the New York Times that this is an indication that X a “lost control of his platform“.

TTP also found other accounts that appeared to be ticked, including one belonging to NTV, a Russian state-controlled television channel.