Taiban takeover of Afghanistan poses challenges for social media giants

With the Taliban, a terrorist group, taking over control of Afghanistan, large US tech companies face social media content challenges after the terrorist group created large content for media dissemination.

On Monday, Facebook confirmed that it continues to designate the Taliban as a terrorist organization and has banned content supporting it on its platforms.

Taliban members have however continued to use Facebook’s WhatsApp, which features end-to-end encrypted messaging service, to communicate directly with one another, despite the company prohibiting it under rules against dangerous organizations.

In a statement a spokesperson for Facebook Inc said, it was closely monitoring the situation in the country and that WhatsApp would take action on any accounts found to be linked with sanctioned organizations in Afghanistan.

The Taliban’s spokesman on Twitter, which has hundreds of thousands of followers, has tweeted updates on the takeover of Afghanistan.

When asked on the terrorist group’s use of Twitter, its spokesman pointed to its policies against violent organizations and hateful conduct but did now shed clarity on questions on how it makes its classifications.

According to Twitter’s rules, it does not allow groups who promote terrorism or violence against civilians.

The return of the Taliban in Afghanistan has raised concerns that it will crack down on freedom of speech and human rights, especially women’s rights and that Afghanistan will once again be the hotbed for global terrorism.

Social media giants have earlier blocked former U.S. President Donald Trump for inciting violence around the January 6 Capitol riot and has also banned Myanmar’s military following a coup in the country.

Both companies have come under fire from lawmakers and regulators, globally, for their outsized political and economic influence, often depend on state designations or official international recognitions to determine who is allowed on their sites.

When asked to respond on imposing a ban or restrictions on the Taliban, Alphabet Inc’s YouTube declined comment but said, it relies on governments to define “Foreign Terrorist Organizations” (FTO) to guide the site’s enforcement of its rules against violent criminal groups.

YouTube also pointed out that the U.S. State Department’s list of FTO’s does not list the Taliban as a FTO. The U.S. has classified the Taliban as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist,” which freezes the U.S. assets of those blacklisted and bars Americans from working with them. “The Taliban is somewhat an accepted player at an international relations level,” said Mohammed Sinan Siyech, a researcher on security in South Asia and doctoral candidate at the University of Edinburgh, pointing to talks China and the United States have held with the group. “If that recognition comes in, then for a company like Twitter or Facebook to make a subjective decision that this group is bad and we will not host them poses complications.”

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