Three ago, the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, declared himself defeated and acknowledged that “the Taliban won”. From that moment on, the movement became responsible for the country it took by force. In addition to all the other challenges – social, political, economic, cultural – that this reality brings, it will also represent a very significant one for media companies.
Facebook, for example, confirmed on Monday that it considers the Taliban a terrorist group and prohibits it and its content from using its platforms.
Once Afghanistan is taken over, the Taliban will be able to impose their conservative and extremist policies that will affect those who, even unwillingly, inhabit the country. As platforms for the rapid dissemination of ideas, companies responsible for social media now face a new and important challenge. This is because they will need to be able to moderate the content shared by the group.
Facebook confirmed that it considers the Taliban a terrorist group, banning its content on its platforms under the company’s rules against dangerous organizations. However, according to Reuters, members of the movement continue to use the WhatsApp messaging service to communicate with Afghans.
A Facebook spokesperson said the company is closely monitoring the situation in Afghanistan and that WhatsApp will take action on any accounts found to be associated with organizations in the country. In turn, although the rules state that groups that promote terrorism or violence against the population are not allowed, Taliban spokesmen, whose social network account has hundreds of thousands of followers, have been publishing updates during the occupation of the country, on Twitter.
Afghanistan poses a new challenge to social media
The companies responsible for social networks have been the target of several criticisms from global legislators and regulators, as they represent an exaggerated political and economic influence over users. Furthermore, they often rely on official designations to determine who is allowed on their platforms.
For example, YouTube did not comment on a possible ban on the Taliban in particular but said its service relies on governments to define “Foreign Terrorist Organizations” (FTO). This definition allows for guiding the platform’s rules against violent criminals.
However, YouTube has shown the US State Department’s FTO list and the Taliban is not on it. Instead, they classify the group as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” – a title that freezes the assets in the US of those on the list and prohibits Americans from working with them.
What hinders the actions of companies responsible for social media is exactly how the Taliban is viewed globally. According to security researcher and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Edinburgh, Mohammed Sinan Siyech, “The Taliban is in some ways an accepted player in international relations.”
While the Taliban has issued statements about wanting to establish peaceful international relations and protect the citizens of Afghanistan, the group’s takeover of the country is an affront to freedom of expression and fundamental human rights, especially those of women.
Source: with Agencies