The two social media giants Facebook and TikTok have both said Tuesday that they will not lift bans on content that supports the Taliban. The group has taken control of Afghanistan this week.
According to CNBC, the social media platforms the Afghan group has used Facebook and other social media platforms to promote their projects. Facebook added that it has hired a team of content moderators that will remove images, posts, and videos related to the movement.
The group took full control of the country over the weekend after seizing the capital of Kabul as well as the Presidential Palace. This came after U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision in April to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
A Facebook spokesperson told CNBC: “The Taliban is sanctioned as a terrorist organization under U.S. law and we have banned them from our services under our Dangerous Organization policies.”
The spokesperson added that the Taliban has been banned from the social platform for years.
“We also have a dedicated team of 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,” the Facebook spokesperson said.
WhatsApp ban on the Taliban
The Facebook ban on Taliban-related content and accounts also apply to its apps Instagram and WhatsApp. However, according to reports, the Taliban are still using WhatsApp to communicate in between them. This is because the app is end-to-end encrypted and Facebook can’t spy on what people are sharing on it.
“As a private messaging service, we do not have access to the contents of people’s personal chats however, if we become aware that a sanctioned individual or organization may have a presence on WhatsApp we take action,” a WhatsApp spokesperson told Vice on Monday.
“The situation in Afghanistan is rapidly evolving,” a Twitter spokesperson told CNBC. “We’re also witnessing people in the country using Twitter to seek help and assistance. Twitter’s top priority is keeping people safe, and we remain vigilant.”
“We will continue to proactively enforce our rules and review content that may violate Twitter rules, specifically policies against the glorification of violence, platform manipulation, and spam,” the spokesperson added.
Rasmus Nielsen, a professor of political communication at the University of Oxford, told CNBC it’s important that social media companies act in crisis situations in a consistent manner.
“Every time someone is banned there is a risk they were only using the platform for legitimate purposes,” he said.
“Given the disagreement over terms like ‘terrorism’ and who gets to designate individuals and groups as such, civil society groups and activists will want clarity about the nature and extent of collaboration with governments in making these decisions,” Nielsen added. “And many users will seek reassurances that any technologies used for enforcement preserve their privacy.”