The Taliban bought Twitter’s blue ticks for $8 a month. They appear to have been removed after outrage.

The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in the summer of 2021, but nations across the world are still debating whether or not to recognize the hardline Islamist state. Getty Images/ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO/POOL/AFP

  • According to the BBC, at least two Taliban officials had blue ticks on their Twitter accounts on Monday.
  • This generated outcry, and the ticks were apparently removed on Tuesday.
  • Governments all around the globe are still debating whether or not to recognize the Islamist administration.

Senior Taliban leaders and sympathizers, who sported Twitter’s $8-a-month blue verification badges until Monday, appear to have been de-verified after a BBC investigation provoked outrage.

The BBC reported on Monday that at least two Taliban leaders and four acknowledged sympathizers of the regime had their Twitter accounts deleted. Hedayatullah Hedayat, the Taliban’s Access to Information Director, and Abdul Haq Hammad, the regime’s media watchdog, are among them. They both have roughly 190,000 and 170,000 followers.

On Tuesday night, the tick marks will be removed from the accounts.

It’s unclear whether Twitter removed the blue badges from accounts associated with the Taliban or whether the account holders opted out of the Twitter Blue service. According to the BBC, which cited local media, the blue tick on Hedayat’s account was last removed in December.

Insider requests for comments received outside of usual business hours were not immediately responded to by Twitter or the Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture. Elon Musk, Twitter’s new owner, has dismissed the company’s communications staff.

Twitter Blue is a paid membership service that charges users a blue tick next to their account name in exchange for early access to certain services. The initiative, which costs $8 per month for US online users, is one of CEO Elon Musk’s efforts to commercialize the platform, which he claims is losing $4 million each day.

The Taliban’s presence on Western social media has sparked debate as the United States and nations across the globe debate whether to recognize the Islamist authority. The Taliban have perpetrated several human rights violations since taking over Afghanistan in the summer of 2021, according to the United Nations mission in the country in July 2022. Women are also barred from entering universities under the dictatorship.

Social media firms were also forced to make a decision: Facebook and YouTube have banned the Taliban, but Twitter has not. In October 2021, months after his own account was permanently suspended, former President Donald Trump denounced the Taliban’s presence on Twitter.

“We live in a world where the Taliban have a large presence on Twitter, but your favourite American President has been silenced,” Trump stated in a press statement announcing Truth Social’s October 2021 launch. “This is intolerable.”

Elon Musk, the current owner of Twitter, reinstated Trump’s account in November 2022.

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