According to a study, Twitter accounts with pro-Russian propaganda buy verification ticks to increase their reach on the service. The profiles spread Russian misinformation about the war of aggression in Ukraine and stirred up sentiment against Western support for the country, the Washington Post wrote on Wednesday, citing findings from the US research group Reset.
The tick symbols for verified accounts used to be awarded by Twitter to celebrities, politicians or companies after verification. With tech billionaire Elon Musk as the new owner, users can buy it for eight dollars a month with a paid subscription. It has been announced for the future that posts by subscription customers will be placed more visibly on Twitter. On Twitter, tweets can not only be displayed chronologically, but also selected by algorithms. This view can also contain posts from accounts that are not followed.
Musk, who has more than 129 million followers on Twitter, interacted with one of the accounts highlighted by reset researchers, whose tweets subsequently saw more views. Musk commented on a tweet that claimed, among other things, that 157,000 Ukrainian military personnel and 2,458 NATO soldiers had been killed in the Ukraine war, with the words: "A tragic loss of life." He later called on Twitter users to fact-check the numbers. NATO soldiers do not take part in the war.
A few months ago, Musk proposed, as a peace solution, to hold votes on future membership under UN supervision in the Ukrainian territories annexed by Russia in violation of international law. He also suggested recognizing the illegally occupied Crimea as part of Russia. At the same time, the Starlink systems of his company SpaceX provide internet coverage in Ukraine after Russian attacks on the infrastructure. However, he spoke out against the military use of the technology.