Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan following the July 6 drawdown of U.S. military troops, social media platforms have been struggling with how to handle content about the new government. Anything Taliban-related is becoming a no-no on Facebook.
The Taliban is considered by most other governments to be an oppressive regime, especially toward women.
A Facebook executive said the company has already taken action by “proactively” removing content from its platforms that promote the Taliban, which is on Facebook’s list of dangerous organizations, Bloomberg reported.
Any content promoting or representing the Taliban is banned, said Adam Mosseri, head of Facebook’s photo-sharing app Instagram, during a recent Bloomberg Television interview.
“We are relying on that policy to proactively take down anything that we can that might be dangerous or that is related to the Taliban in general,” Mosseri said. “Now this situation is evolving rapidly, and with it, I’m sure the risk will evolve as well. We are going to have to modify what we do and how we do it to respond to those changing risks as they happen.”
The Taliban has often used social media to mobilize support, according to Emerson Brooking, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and co-author of “LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media.”
The Taliban is officially banned from all Facebook services including WhatsApp.
Questioned on TV about free speech, a Taliban spokesman said the question should be directed at U.S. companies such as Facebook that claim to promote it while censoring it.
People had lots to say on Twitter.
“How do u determine whether the content is pushed by the taliban themselves, or about the real Afghans celebrating events?” Farid Nor @faridnor tweeted.
Dubium @DubiumWorld called hypocrisy over the Facebook ban, tweeting, “You’ll receive our propaganda and only our propaganda “
“Authoritarians don’t understand the difference between putting limitations on government actions and the actions of a private company” Vax and mask tweeted @MessFixing.
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Facebook isn’t the only platform making moves to ban or restrict references to the Taliban.
While Twitter does not have a blanket policy on Taliban activity, it takes action against accounts violating existing rules against violent content or platform manipulation. “The situation in Afghanistan is rapidly evolving,” a spokesperson told The Verge. “We’re also witnessing people in the country using Twitter to seek help and assistance.”
Google-owned YouTube said it terminates all Taliban-linked accounts due to its interpretation of U.S. sanctions law.
“YouTube complies with all applicable sanctions and trade compliance laws, including relevant U.S. sanctions,” a representative said. “As such, if we find an account believed to be owned and operated by the Afghan Taliban, we terminate it.”