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Surge in Verified Taliban Accounts on X

A surge in verified Taliban accounts on X, formerly Twitter, highlights the group's strategic use of the platform's features to spread propaganda and legitimise their presence. This trend raises questions about the implications of the verification feature and the moderation of extremist content on social media.


14 Jun 2024

In May 2024, AW noted a surge in the number of verified Taliban accounts on X (formerly Twitter), including spokespersons, officials, and institutions. In January 2023, only a limited number of Taliban accounts and approximately 10 pro-Taliban pages were identified. Verification status of the accounts was inconsistent, with pages often gaining and losing verification intermittently. By the end of May 2024, many more official Taliban and pro-Taliban accounts had acquired verified status, indicated by the blue checkmark.

The following Taliban officials have been identified to have their official titles listed in their X account bio and verification status:

Other verified Taliban officials

Other Taliban officials with verified accounts were observed without their official titles in their bios on X. For example, Zakir Jalaly, a Foreign Ministry Head of the Asian Department, and Qari Abdul Satar Saeed, Deputy Director of Strategic and Public Relations at the Office of the Prime Minister. 

Verified State-Affiliated Accounts

Taliban state-affiliated accounts, which are also verified, include the Ministry of Education (MoE), state-run Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA) Pashto, RTA Dari, RTA Islam, RTA Sport, RTA Radio, and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Urdu Official

None of the Taliban accounts listed display the official grey checkmark typically associated with government-related accounts. 

Follower Counts

The follower counts for these verified Taliban accounts range from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands. For example, the Taliban’s Deputy Spokesman has approximately 4,500 followers, while the spokesman for the Supreme Court has 32,000 followers. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan's Urdu-language account also has more than 241,600 followers.  

Shadow accounts

The Taliban MoE and RTA Pashto each maintain two accounts: one verified and one unverified. The unverified MoE account has 43,300 followers, while the verified account has 8,700 followers. Similarly, the unverified RTA Pashto account has 770,300 followers, compared to 17,200 followers of the verified account. The unverified accounts, which have significantly more followers, often repost content from verified accounts in order to reach a wider audience.

Figure: The screenshot shows the unverified X account of the Taliban MoE reposting content from the Ministry’s verified account.

Pro-Taliban verified accounts

In addition to Taliban accounts, there are numerous pro-Taliban accounts engaged in activities supporting the de facto authority, dozens of which have recently received verification on X. These accounts are either managed by individual pro-Taliban propagandists, or by alleged independent media outlets publishing Taliban propaganda. Some of these outlets, such as Al Mersaad Media, have been identified as Taliban-affiliated. Follower counts for these accounts range from tens of thousands to several hundred thousand

Unverified Taliban and pro-Taliban accounts

Despite verification of some accounts, the majority of Taliban and pro-Taliban accounts remain unverified. Notably, the Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid’s account, with nearly a million followers, as well as the accounts of the Prime Minister’s office and over 20 ministries, are  unverified as of the time of writing. Similarly, accounts of prominent pro-Taliban propagandists also have not received verification, including some with follower counts ranging from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands.


The Taliban prefer X over other social media platforms such as Meta, citing Meta's block of Taliban-affiliated accounts. In August 2021, following the Taliban’s rise to power, Facebook informed the BBC that it would maintain its ban on Taliban content, classifying the group as a ‘Dangerous Organisation.’ 

In November 2022, Elon Musk announced a USD $8 monthly fee for verification of accounts on X, enabling users to post longer texts and videos, edit published content, and benefit from “priority ranking in search, mentions, and replies.” AW note that these privileged functionalities allow the Taliban to strengthen its propaganda capabilities on social media, including by reaching a larger audience. The Taliban’s gradual transition from unverified to verified accounts may also indicate ongoing efforts to appear more legitimate.

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