San Francisco– Elon Musk-run X (formerly Twitter) is providing premium, paid services to accounts for two leaders of a US-designated terrorist group and several other organisations sanctioned by the government, according to a new report from the Tech Transparency Project (TTP).

The report identified over a dozen X accounts for US-sanctioned entities that had a blue checkmark, which requires the purchase of a premium subscription.

X offers premium accounts a variety of perks along with the checkmarks, including the ability to post longer text and videos as well as greater visibility.

According to the report, 28 verified accounts belong to individuals and groups that have been identified by the US government as a threat to national security. This group includes two leaders of Hezbollah, accounts associated with Houthis in Yemen, and state-run media accounts from Iran and Russia.

Out of these accounts, 18 were verified after X started charging for verification in April last year.

“The fact that X requires users to pay a monthly or annual fee for premium service suggests that X is engaging in financial transactions with these accounts, a potential violation of US sanctions,” the report said.

As the report pointed out, X’s own policies bar sanctioned users from paying for premium services. Some of the accounts identified contained advertisements in their replies.

“Some checkmark accounts associated with US-sanctioned entities had ads running in the replies to their posts, raising the possibility that they could get a cut of that ad revenue,” the report noted.

When TTP researchers asked about the accounts, an X representative said he would look into it but did not provide a comment.

“Hours after this report was published, X removed all of the checkmarks mentioned in the report and suspended one account for the Iranian-sponsored militia Harakat al-Nujaba,” the report mentioned.

Accounts belonging to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and Houthi rebels in Yemen were among those that lost blue checkmarks.

However, X shared a statement by the company’s @Safety account, saying that the teams have reviewed the TTP report and “will take action if necessary”.

“Several of the accounts listed in the Tech Transparency Report are not directly named on sanction lists, while some others may have visible account check marks without receiving any services that would be subject to sanctions. We’re always committed to ensuring that we maintain a safe, secure and compliant platform,” the company wrote.

On X, blue checkmarks indicate that an account has paid for the Premium or Premium+ service tier. The Premium tier costs $8 per month or $84 per year, while Premium+ costs $16 per month or $168 yearly. Gold checkmarks indicate an account has paid X to be a “Verified Organisation”. (IANS)