Facebook and Twitter Have Differing Responses to Taliban Platforms

by mcardinal

Karley Cicale, FISM News


In a move to reassert intolerance of the Taliban’s history with radical behavior, WhatsApp shut down a Taliban helpline in Kabul for reporting looting and violence. This was done in order to adhere to US sanctions on the Taliban.

According to the US Department of the Treasury, the Taliban is on a sanctions list called “Specially Designated Nationals” which includes “individuals and companies owned or controlled by, or acting for or on behalf of, targeted countries. It also lists individuals, groups, and entities, such as terrorists and narcotics traffickers designated under programs that are not country-specific.” Due to this classification, the Taliban’s “assets are blocked and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from dealing with them”.

It has been reported that WhatsApp, a Facebook owned company, was used by the Taliban to advertise a “helpline” after its capture of Kabul and communicate to the people that “we are in charge of security.” However, Facebook announced Tuesday that it bans the Taliban on all its platforms under its “Dangerous Organizations” policy, as well as posts which praise or endorse the group.

This ban will extend across all its platforms, not just WhatsApp, including Facebook and Instagram. The latter are easier for Facebook to monitor, because the information is easily accessible. The appeal of WhatsApp, on the other hand, is that the messages are encrypted, which will make it harder for the company to review and take down Taliban content. The company has pledged to use their “Afghanistan experts, who are native Dari and Pashto speakers and have knowledge of local context, helping to identify and alert us to emerging issues on the platform.”

Twitter on the other hand has drawn criticism for not taking down accounts that appear to be connected to Taliban officials, despite it’s strong approach to de-platforming conservative voices, like former President Donald Trump. The New York Post reported that Twitter had said that they would “continue to proactively enforce its rules outlawing the glorification of violence, platform manipulation and spam, ” but did not commit to taking down the Taliban-affiliated accounts.

Taliban spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, gave live updates via his Twitter feed of the Taliban take-over of Kabul. He spread propaganda over the platform as well, claiming that the people of Afghanistan were “happy” with the Islamic regimes rise to power.

Many conservatives have called out the big tech company for its overt anti-American double standard: