Platforms Struggle With Policy As Taliban Assumes Control

 As the militant Islamic group, the Taliban assumes control of the dominant power in Afghanistan after the United States withdrew military support from the state, Social Media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc are being scrutinized for the ways they are treating the Taliban accounts. While no platform has publicly announced any changes to their policies or how the accounts are being moderated, they have switched resources to make sure that the policies are properly enforced after this change in power. 

The Washington Post, in a question raised by them, asked whether the militant group will be granted control of the official Facebook and Twitter accounts for the Government of Afghanistan. Taliban currently has seized control of the government and have assumed power in the nation, granting access to these official government accounts would be a step in legitimizing the transfer of power and control over the nation. 

While the Taliban has been a subject of a number of official bans, the militant group has been embracing various tech platforms as they reclaim the national territory. An official Taliban spokesperson used Twitter to claim control of the capital city of Kabul stating that the situation on the ground was stable and that the general public was happy with the security provided. According to a report, the Taliban also circulated a few WhatsApp numbers with officials from the previous regime as they were working their way to discuss a surrender. WhatsApp has since discontinued some of those numbers. 

The Taliban is officially banned from using any Facebook services which includes WhatsApp, however, WhatsApp uses an end-to-end encryption system which makes it difficult for the company to moderate the usage and make sure that the policies aren’t violated. According to a statement provided to The Vice, a WhatsApp spokesperson said that the moderators can only take action against an account once they are made aware of them, but with no access to user communications, it is hard for WhatsApp to differentiate between different accounts and whose using them. 

Even twitter said that they don’t have any policy against the Taliban specifically and the only action that it takes or is allowed to take is against an account that violates its existing policies against violent content or platform manipulation. 

“The situation in Afghanistan is rapidly evolving. We’re also witnessing people in the country using Twitter to seek help and assistance.”

Facebook has identified the Taliban as a dangerous organization and has proceeded to remove any account that is representing the group and promotes its support, even in the form of user posts. The company has directed resources to make sure that its policies are being enforced in light of the unrest seen in Kabul, Afghanistan. While the company still awaits further instruction from outside organizations on whether to identify the Taliban as the new government in Afghanistan or not, they are trying its best to ensure that its policies are not being violated. 

Facebook does not make decisions about the recognized government in any particular country but instead respects the authority of the international community in making these determinations. Regardless of who holds power, we will take the appropriate action against accounts and content that breaks our rules.”