TTP Report: X Gives Blue Checkmarks to Hezbollah, Other U.S.-Sanctioned Groups


Contact: Michael Clauw,, 202.780.5750

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA), a non-profit watchdog group that runs the Tech Transparency Project (TTP), published a new report on how X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, is providing premium, paid services to accounts for two leaders of a U.S.-designated terrorist group and several other organizations sanctioned by the U.S. government. TTP identified nearly two dozen blue checkmark accounts that are linked to U.S.-sanctioned entities. According to X, users must purchase a Premium or Premium+ subscription to get a blue checkmark. That suggests X is engaging in financial transactions with these accounts—a potential violation of U.S. sanctions.

Read TTP’s report.

For years, Twitter allowed U.S.-sanctioned individuals and entities to use free accounts on the platform, an arrangement that some legal experts said was permissible under U.S. sanctions law. But by providing a premium, paid service to sanctioned entities, X may be raising new legal issues.

One blue checkmark account that bears the name and image of Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hezbollah, also indicates it is “ID verified,” a service that X offers to premium subscribers as a way to prevent impersonation. X requires users to submit a government-issued ID and a selfie to get verified in this way, though it is unclear if Nasrallah did so. X says these accounts get “prioritized support.”

Two other accounts for U.S.-sanctioned entities, Iran’s Press TV and Russia’s Tinkoff Bank, had gold checkmarks. A gold checkmark indicates the account is a “Verified Organization,” and at the time of TTP’s research, cost $1,000 per month. (X has since introduced a Basic tier that costs $200 per month.) Gold checkmark accounts get all the benefits of X’s Premium+ tier plus monthly ad credits.

Although the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) may grant waivers to U.S. companies wishing to do business with certain sanctioned entities, it isn’t publicly known if X has sought or received such waivers for any of the accounts detailed in this report. Nonetheless, X’s own policies state that its premium services, which include the blue checkmark, are off limits to U.S.-sanctioned entities, including those under OFAC sanctions.

CfA Executive Director Michelle Kuppersmith said, “At best, X is failing to enforce its own policies with its apparently unrestrained rollout of its new blue check revenue scheme. At worst, the company may be violating U.S. sanctions while making it easier for dangerous individuals and organizations to spread their propaganda and ideology.”

Campaign for Accountability is a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.