Update: The blue check marks have since vanished from the Taliban accounts mentioned in the original BBC report. It is not clear if Twitter was responsible for removing the badges. The Cybernews team is following this story and will provide updates as they become available.
Taliban officials and affiliated account holders have been snapping up Twitter’s infamous blue check marks in an attempt to gain PR power among followers.
At least two Taliban officials and four prominent backers who were not previously verified, now have the blue checks, the BBC reported. The accounts have at least a half a million followers between them.
Critics argue the blue ticks will help the terror organization improve its ranking algorithm, indirectly allowing then to spread propaganda to members and potential recruits in the West.
The blue badges, located next to the user's Twitter handle, gives the Taliban backed account holders access to priority rankings in conversations and searches. It also allows longer video posts and custom themes.
This despite a Twitter policy statement on violent organizations dating back to 2020:
“There is no place on Twitter for violent organizations, including terrorist organizations, violent extremist groups, or individuals who affiliate with and promote their illicit activities.”
Twitter has said it would allow the Taliban to stay on its platform as long as it is not used it to promote violence.
The Taliban knows how to play the game, manipulating its social media presence to engage its followers.
Publicly flouting their newly acquired blue badges, one former Taliban official mocked the United States and former President Donald Trump, tweeting, Elon Musk was "making Twitter great again."
Trump was famously banned by Twitter after the Washington DC capital riots last January. At the time, Trump complained about the irony of being booted off the platform while the Taliban and its supporters were allowed to stay.
Other social media giants, such as Facebook, What’s App and TikTok reiterated their ban on the Taliban after the terror group took over the Afghan government in August 2021.
This past July, Facebook removed two Afghan state run media outlets from its platform.
In 2021, Twitter claims they suspended close to 100 thousand unique accounts for violations of promoting terrorism and violent extremism.
The new Twitter Blue subscription service launched soon after Musk officially took over the company in October 2022.
Previously, Twitter's coveted blue check marks, were only awarded to account holders that were proven to be “active, notable and authentic,” and restricted to prestigious categories, such as celebrity, brand, government official, professional sports team, influencer or activist.
The updated pay-for-play program awards a blue tick mark to any account, as long as the account holder is willing to fork over the $8 a month to pay for it ($11 for Apple users).
Legacy blue tick account holders will eventually have to pay the fee or lose their status, Twitter announced, causing a backlash among users since.
One of the Taliban accounts' blue badges had been removed last month, but was back as of today, the BBC said.
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