A Concerning New Group Pops Up With Twitter's Blue Checks

Taliban officials, supporters were seen with the marks on their accounts, though now they're gone
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2023 8:09 AM CST
Latest to Sport Twitter's Blue Check Marks: the Taliban
This July 9, 2019, file photo shows a sign outside of the Twitter office building in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Twitter's blue check marks have had a rough go since the platform was taken over by Elon Musk, with the paid Twitter Blue subscription attracting phony accounts and plenty of criticism. The site says it has since made tweaks, but now there's a new issue surrounding the verification symbol that has spurred more controversy. The BBC reports that Taliban officials and supporters were able to acquire a blue check for their accounts, simply by paying the $8 to $11 needed to sign up for it.

Among those who suddenly boasted a blue mark of late: Abdul Haq Hammad of Afghanistan's Ministry of Information and Culture, who has 170,000-plus followers, and Hedayatullah Hedayat, the head of the Islamic extremist group's "access to information" department, with nearly 190,000 followers of his own. Hedayat had previously paid for a blue tick after Musk took Twitter's reins, but it vanished soon after—only to then return again. Muhammad Jalal, who the BBC notes used to identify as a Taliban official, also became a blue check owner, and he posted a tweet thanking Musk for buying the site and "making twitter great again."

Various other Taliban supporters followed suit. The BBC notes that before Musk's Twitter Blue service debuted, none of the officials had been able to get a blue check mark, which were given only to "authentic accounts of public interest." Deadline notes that "the news may be demonstrative of a flood of newly verified Twitter users who are using the platform to espouse harmful ideologies." But it may already be old news: WION reports that the Taliban check marks have already been yanked, and a review of some of the accounts seems to verify that. (More Taliban stories.)

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