Facebook, YouTube, others move to address Taliban takeover

By Zion Rufus

Following America’s withdrawal, the Taliban takeover, and the immediate seize of Afghanistan’s civilian government which has stirred the concerns of major governments across the world, social media giants including Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have begun to seek out ways to address Taliban-related contents on their platforms.

Regarded by multiple governments and organizations as terrorists, The Taliban, which refers to itself as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, is a Deobandi Islamist religious-political movement and military organization in Afghanistan.

Facebook reiterated its restriction on accounts promoting, supporting, or representing the Taliban from its platforms. The big tech disclosed its intention to remove “accounts maintained by or on behalf of the Taliban.”

Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and its other platforms WhatsApp and Instagram are renowned for their well crafted policies which regulate the  spread of information, curb misinformation, and as well curb the promotion of contents that incite violence.

Facebook announced: “The Taliban is sanctioned as a terrorist organization under US law and we have banned them from our services under our Dangerous Organization policies. This means we remove accounts maintained by or on behalf of the Taliban and prohibit praise, support, and representation of them.”

In its policies, Facebook said: “In an effort to prevent and disrupt real-world harm, we do not allow organizations or individuals that proclaim a violent mission or are engaged in violence to have a presence on Facebook. We assess these entities based on their behavior both online and offline, most significantly, their ties to violence. Under this policy, we designate individuals, organizations, and networks of people. These designations are divided into three tiers that indicate the level of content enforcement, with Tier 1 resulting in the most extensive enforcement because we believe these entities have the most direct ties to offline harm.

The Taliban’s rapid advance through Afghanistan has left women and girls, a whole generation of whom have grown up with rights and freedoms, among the most vulnerable. Their return to power is a terrifying prospect for women. When last they ruled, females were forbidden to attend school. They were shrouded in burqas, condemned to life at home and seen as male possessions.

YouTube announced that it will terminate accounts run by the Afghan Taliban. The Google-owned company told CNN: “If we find an account believed to be owned and operated by the Afghan Taliban, we terminate it. Further, our policies prohibit content that incites violence.” YouTube noted that because the Afghan Taliban appears on the Treasury Department’s sanctions list, the platform will not allow accounts controlled by the group.

Meanwhile, it would seem that Twitter is torn between two decisions. While one of the Taliban’s spokesmen, Suhail Shaheen, has an active, unverified account on Twitter with 347,000 followers,  Twitter  submitted that people in Afghanistan are also currently using the platform to seek help. The social messaging platform  has promised to “remain vigilant” in enforcing its policies, including those that ban content that glorifies violence.


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