Counter Extremism Project Condemns X’s Sale Of Subscription Service To Terrorist Groups

(New York, N.Y.) — The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) today called on X to take more substantial steps to safeguard against the future sale of subscriptions to designated terrorist groups, including Hezbollah and the Houthis. Reports emerged last week that X, formerly Twitter, may be in violation of U.S. sanctions and counter terrorism financing provisions. The social media company apparently accepted payments for subscription accounts from sanctioned terrorist groups and individuals, including Hezbollah leaders and the recently re-designated Houthis. As a U.S.-based organization, X is not exempt from terrorism financing provisions under U.S. law and accepting funds from listed terror groups in exchange for services such as Blue Check Marks constitutes a clear violation of these laws.

CEP Senior Director Dr. Hans-Jakob Schindler said:

“Accepting even a small amount of money in exchange for services like a blue checkmark on X is the definition of ‘material support.’ While some steps seem to have been taken to address this issue, X's belated response to this oversight, and only in the face of public scrutiny, is insufficient. The company's legal obligations were clear: to refrain from providing services to individuals and groups designated as terrorists in exchange for payment, and to promptly report any illicit financial transactions to the appropriate authorities.

X’s actions remain deeply concerning and demonstrate an apparent disregard for its legal obligations. If X continues to grant subscriptions to accounts affiliated with designated terrorist organizations and individuals, it raises serious questions about the company’s commitment to the law. Social media platforms must remember that the First Amendment does not protect terrorism financing.”

The non-profit Tech Transparency Project, which monitors the tech industry, last week reported that it had found 28 blue check mark accounts that are also associated with U.S.-sanctioned entities. In response, the company posted that it would review the accounts in question and removed several of the check marks later that day.

As social media platforms continue to face difficulties in reducing extremist content online, it is clear that more needs to be done to make them aware of their responsibilities. Moving forward, it is imperative for X to prioritize compliance with U.S. laws and ensure that its platform is not exploited for illicit purposes.

To read CEP’s Tech and Terrorism reports, please click here.

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In Their Own Words:

We reiterate once again that the brigades will directly target US bases across the region in case the US enemy commits a folly and decides to strike our resistance fighters and their camps [in Iraq].

Abu Ali al-Askari, Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) Security Official Mar. 2023
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