Controversy surrounds Elon Musk’s X paid verification system

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Elon Musk's X, once Twitter, provided subscription perks to designated terrorist organizations and others banned from operating in the US, according to campaigners.
Elon Musk's X, once Twitter, provided subscription perks to designated terrorist organizations and others banned from operating in the US, according to campaigners.

Elon Musk’s X, once Twitter, provided subscription perks to designated terrorist organizations and others banned from operating in the US, according to campaigners.

The Tech Transparency Project (TTP) uncovered that X had granted blue check marks, indicating verified accounts, to individuals tied to Hezbollah and other controversial entities.

Paid Verification Raises Concerns:

For a monthly fee of $8 (£6.40), users could obtain a blue check mark, allowing for longer posts and enhanced promotion. 

This decision, made by X’s owner Elon Musk in 2022, sparked controversy, with critics fearing it could exacerbate issues of disinformation and impersonation on the platform.

Previous Free Verification:

The blue check mark was initially free and intended to signify that the account holder’s identity had been verified by the platform. Recipients included journalists, world leaders, and celebrities.

Sanctioned Individuals Granted Check Marks:

TTP found instances where accounts linked to sanctioned individuals, such as members of Hezbollah and Ansar Allah (the Houthis), had paid for blue check marks. This raised concerns about X providing a platform to entities facing sanctions in the US and UK.

Legal and Security Implications:

With the introduction of paid verification, X may face new legal challenges, particularly regarding compliance with sanctions laws. 

While X removed some check marks following the TTP report, questions remain about the platform’s security measures and adherence to legal obligations.

X’s Response:

X’s safety team defended its subscription process, stating it complied with legal requirements and underwent independent screening by payment providers. The platform pledged to review TTP’s report and take necessary action.

Criticism and Platform Control:

TTP director Katie Paul criticized X, suggesting that the platform had “lost control” by granting check marks to controversial entities. 

The incident underscores the challenges social media platforms face in balancing user verification with legal and ethical considerations.

As X grapples with the fallout from this revelation, it faces mounting pressure to address concerns about its verification process and uphold its commitment to platform integrity.

Gary Monroe

Gary Monroe is a seasoned contributor to the Los Angeles Business Magazine, where he offers insightful analysis on local business trends and economic developments. With a focus on Los Angeles' dynamic commercial landscape, Gary's articles provide valuable perspectives for entrepreneurs and business professionals in the city.

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