Elon Musk’s X reportedly allowed terrorists to buy blue checkmarks |


Elon Musk-owned social media platform X is facing accusations that it violated US sanctions by accepting subscription payments from terrorist organisations and state-run media outlets in sanctioned countries like Iran and Russia.
A report published Wednesday by nonprofit watchdog group Tech Transparency Project revealed that several accounts on X tied to Hezbollah leaders and Iran’s state-run Press TV have been granted blue verification checkmarks, indicating they pay anywhere from $8 to $1,000 per month for various subscription levels.Some accounts were also labelled as “ID-verified,” meaning they provided government IDs and selfies to X.
“We were surprised to find that X was providing premium services to a wide range of groups the U.S. has sanctioned for terrorism and other activities that harm its national security,” said Katie Paul, director of Tech Transparency Project. “It’s yet another sign that X has lost control of its platform.”
X responded by removing verification badges from several accounts named in the report but said its approach to monetization “adheres to legal obligations.” The company added that some accounts “may have visible account check marks without receiving any services that would be subject to sanctions.”
Tech Transparency Project replied to the company’s statement, arguing that even amplified exposure alone could be considered the provision of services. The group also noted that some terrorist organisations might be affiliated with sanctioned entities even if not explicitly named. “This is why companies have compliance efforts on these issues,” said Michael Clauw, Tech Transparency Project’s communications director.
The controversy casts further doubt about X’s ability to moderate harmful content amid mass layoffs under Elon Musk‘s ownership. Advertisers have fled the platform as extremism and misinformation run rampant. Now, questionable financial dealings present an additional risk.
“Right now, Hassan Nasrallah is probably one of the most recognizable terrorist leaders in the world,” Paul said, referring to the leader of the Lebanese political and militant group Hezbollah. “And does that mean that there’s a selfie of Hassan Nasrallah floating around somewhere at X?”
X has faced severe criticism since Musk took over the company in late 2022 and laid off approximately 80% of its employees. Safety experts were among those let go, and the remaining staff had to manage a flood of harmful content. In December, the EU launched an investigation into X’s risk management policies. Now, the company’s alleged involvement in illegal financial transactions with sanctioned groups has raised the stakes even higher. If found guilty of violating US law, X may face significant fines or criminal charges.


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