Taliban officials begin buying blue ticks on Elon Musk’s Twitter

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Senior Taliban have started using Twitter’s paid-for verification feature, meaning some now have blue ticks on their accounts.

At least two officials and four of their prominent supporters in Afghanistan are currently using the checkmarks.

The social media giant’s blue tick previously indicated “active, notable, and authentic accounts of public interest” that had been verified by Twitter bought by billionaire Elon Musk.

But now, users can purchase them through the new Twitter Blue service.

Hedayatullah Hedayat, head of the Taliban’s access to information department, now has the tick for his account which has 188,000 followers.

Hedayat regularly posts information related to the Taliban administration. He had his paid-for blue tick removed last month but it has now returned, according to local media.

Abdul Haq Hammad, head of the media watchdog at the Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture, also has a blue tick on his account that has 170,000 followers. Although anyone trying to access his profile first sees a sensitive material warning.

Leading Taliban supporters have also acquired the blue tick, including Muhammad Jalal, who previously identified as a Taliban official. He praised the new owner of Twitter on Monday, declaring that Elon Musk was “making Twitter great again”, BBC News reported.

The presence of the hard-line Islamists on Twitter has been a topic of controversy for some time.

In October 2021, former US President Donald Trump - who was suspended from the platform after his supporters stormed the US Capitol - said: “We live in a world where the Taliban has a huge presence on Twitter, yet your favorite American President has been silenced.

"This is unacceptable."

The Twitter Blue service was introduced in December and costs $8 (£6.56) per month, and an increased fee of $11 (£9) is paid by those using the Twitter app on Apple devices.

Subscribers to Twitter Blue benefit from priority ranking in search, mentions, and replies" to help fight spam and bots.

Before the introduction of checkmarks, none of the observed accounts for Taliban officials carried the blue tick mark.

After their return to power in Kabul in August 2021, the group took over verified accounts run by the previous administration, including the Afghanistan Cricket Board. The sporting body’s account now carries a gold tick.

Under Twitter’s new policies, gold checkmarks indicate businesses, while grey ones are for other users, such as governing authorities.

Taliban officials and supporters are prolific users of Twitter, using the platform to disseminate key messages.

Twitter did not respond to the Standard for a request for comment.