U.S. social media companies deal with violent extremist groups ready to rule 40 million nations as the Taliban negotiate with senior politicians and government leaders following the super-fast acquisition of Afghanistan I’m considering a method. Should the Taliban be allowed on social platforms if it does not violate rules such as a ban on inciting
U.S. social media companies deal with violent extremist groups ready to rule 40 million nations as the Taliban negotiate with senior politicians and government leaders following the super-fast acquisition of Afghanistan I’m considering a method.
Should the Taliban be allowed on social platforms if it does not violate rules such as a ban on inciting violence? Instead, would you use it to spread the story of the Taliban being newly reformed and distributing soap and medicine on the streets? If the Taliban operate Afghanistan, should they also operate the official government account of the country?
And do Silicon Valley tech companies need to decide what is a legitimate government and whether it is a legitimate government? They certainly don’t want to. But as the situation progresses, unpleasant decisions come first.
Does the Taliban use social media?
The Taliban quickly seized power in Afghanistan two weeks before the United States was set to complete its military withdrawal after a 20-year war. As Afghan security forces trained and equipped by the United States and its allies melted, armed groups raided the country and occupied all major cities within a few days.
Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube didn’t exist when the Taliban last came to power in Afghanistan. Moreover, MySpace wasn’t. According to the World Bank, the use of the Internet in this country was virtually non-existent, with only 0.01% of the population online.
In recent years, the number has increased significantly. The Taliban also enhances its online presence, produces sophisticated videos and maintains an official social media account. Despite the ban, they found a way around the YouTube, Facebook and WhatsApp restrictions. For example, last year they used the WhatsApp group to share photos of local health authorities wearing white gowns and masks and hand out protective masks and soap bars to locals.
On Twitter, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid posts regular updates to more than 300,000 followers, including international media. Twitter has suspended another account, @AfghPresident, which was acting as the country’s de facto official presidential account, while waiting for the account owner’s identity to be confirmed.
Sarah Kreps, a law professor focusing on international politics, technology and national security at Cornell University, said: “Maybe these groups have realized that decapitated people are not the way to win the hearts of the country, even in terms of tools.”
Wait, was the Taliban allowed on Twitter?
Facebook and YouTube consider the Taliban to be a terrorist organization and ban the operation of their accounts. Twitter hasn’t explicitly banned groups, but on Tuesday the company announced that it would continue to enforce rules, especially policies, rather than banning “violence, platform manipulation, and beautification of spam.”
This basically means that you are allowed to operate until your account violates Twitter rules (for example, by instigating violence).
The Taliban is not on the list of foreign terrorist organizations in the United States, but the United States imposes sanctions on it. Facebook said Tuesday that the group was banned from the platform under a “dangerous organization” policy. It also prohibits “praise, support, representation” of the group and the account runs on behalf of the group. In a statement, the company has a dedicated team of Afghan experts who are native speakers of Afghanistan’s official languages, Dari and Pashto, to provide local conditions and warn the company of new issues. Emphasized.
Facebook has an uneven record when it comes to enforcing that rule. Doing this with WhatsApp, also owned by Facebook, can be more difficult as the service encrypts the message so that only the sender and recipient can read the message.
Twitter has seen people in Afghanistan use the platform to seek help, saying that its top priority is “keeping people safe.” Critics immediately wondered why the company continued to ban former President Donald Trump, even though he allowed Mujahideen to post.
What happened now?
As the situation evolves, large companies are working on how to respond. It’s not a completely unique situation. For example, we had to deal with groups with considerable political power, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, who were violent and terrorist.
“For the past decade, Hamas has used social media to attract attention and deliver messages to an international audience in multiple languages,” said Deborah Margolyn, senior researcher at George Washington University’s radicalism program. Wrote in the July report. For example, she writes that both Hamas’ political and military sectors operate official accounts on Twitter.
Margolyn said the group still used Twitter to call for violence, despite attempts to use English accounts to appeal to the international community. In 2019, Twitter closed its official accounts @HamasInfo and @HamasInfoEn for violating the rules, stating that “Twitter has no place for illegal terrorist organizations or violent extremist groups.”
Facebook did not specifically state whether Afghanistan’s official government account would be handed over to the Taliban if it was recognized as the government of the country. “We respect the authority of the international community in making these decisions, rather than making decisions about governments recognized in certain countries,” the company said in a previous statement.
Twitter refused to answer the question beyond that statement. YouTube, meanwhile, has provided a boilerplate that complies with “all applicable sanctions and trade compliance laws” and prohibits the incitement to violence.
Assuming the Taliban acted and the US sanctions were lifted, all of this effectively leaves the door open for social platforms to ultimately take over control of official accounts. “It seems like a rational approach because I don’t think social media platforms need to determine if they are legal,” he said, working partly in Afghanistan for the U.S. Air Force from 1999 to 2003. Mr. Krebs said.
At the same time, she said companies, especially Facebook, learned a lot and paid for how social media helped incite genocide in Myanmar. And they may not want to repeat those horrors.