New check marks on Elon Musk’s Twitter verifying the accounts of Taliban leaders have vanished following “outrage” over the “Twitter Blue” policy, according to media reports.
The check marks began disappearing after a story early this week by the BBC reporting that the Taliban was paying for the verification under Musk’s new scheme to make money.
It was unclear if the check marks were removed by Twitter, or by the Taliban, because of the ensuing controversy, reported Business Insider.
The check marks are supposed to verify the identities of those with Twitter profiles (though counterfeit profiles have also been mistakenly “verified”).
Before Musk purchased Twitter last October for $44 billion, the blue ticks indicated “active, notable, and authentic accounts of public interest” verified by Twitter, and could not be purchased.
But now subscribers to Musk’s new Twitter Blue system — which costs $8 a month — benefit from “priority ranking in search, mentions and replies,” according to the social media platform.
As of early last week two Taliban officials, four prominent supporters in Afghanistan and other Taliban members were using the checkmarks, the BBC reported.
One of those “verified” Twitter users was Hedayatullah Hedayat, the head of the Taliban’s “access to information” department, with 187,000 followers, according to the BBC. Top Taliban media official Abdul Haq Hammad, with 170,000 followers, was also “checked” earlier this week, according to The Guardian.
The check marks have since vanished from both Hedayat and Haq Hammad’s profiles.
Muhammad Jalal, who has described himself as a Taliban official, praised Musk last Monday, saying he was “making Twitter great again.” the BBC reported.
The Taliban took over the Twitter accounts of the old Afghanistan government after they seized power in August 2021, according to The Guardian.
Twitter, which no longer has a media office, could not be reached for comment.