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Oh Facebook, My Twitter...... Taliban Twitter!

Nirendra Dev

Nirendra DevSep 13, 2021, 08:21 AM IST

Oh Facebook, My Twitter...... Taliban Twitter!

The Taliban banned the internet in the 1990s, but during the last two decades of hibernation and away from power, the militants certainly learned to know the power of the new generation of internet and social media.

 

New Delhi: Twitter, as a social media giant, had plenty of issues in India. It did not mind removing the blue-tick mark from the Vice President of India's account. It created problems for the then IT Minister of India, Ravi Shankar Prasad. It responded rather rudely to Delhi police 'inquiries'.

But when it comes to the Taliban, are they looking the other way or going 'soft'?

According to Limor Simphony Philpott in 'Spectator', "When Twitter permanently banned Donald Trump, it said it did so because of the 'risk of further incitement of violence'. Does that same logic apply to the Taliban?"

Well, the Left-leaning allegations against some of these western techie giants are already in the air.

So, does the communists' world now endorse Jihadi politics? 

In Kerala, even to talk about Narco-Jihad is taken as an offence.

As a matter of policy on Violent Organisations, Twitter says - "There is no place on Twitter for violent organisations, including terrorist organisations, violent extremist groups.... We examine a group's activities both on and off Twitter to determine whether they satisfy the criteria."

So what's certain accounts of Taliban leaders/spokespersons do?

On his Twitter account, Suhail Shaheen calls himself -Member of the negotiations team and Office spokesperson for International Media (English). He has '223 following' as of September 12 (around 2230 hours) and 4,91,5000 followers.The Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid has '25 following' and 3,93,5000 followers. Zabihullah, for his part, follows BBC Pashto, Voice of America Pashto and Al Jazeera English.

The question remains how much the social media and Infotech tools have helped the Taliban build up its so-called '2.0' image - which many critics say is only a facade.

But the contrast is visible too. In the 1990s, the Taliban banned the internet, but during the last two decades of hibernation and away from power, the militants certainly learned to know the power of the new generation of internet and social media.

Facebook - of course - has banned the Taliban. So has Tik Tok.

In fact, by August 17 itself (two days since the fall of Afghanistan), the Taliban's spokesperson Zabihullah criticised Facebook's decision.

The popular social media group has said that it has a 'dedicated team' of content moderators monitoring and removing posts, images, videos and other content related to the Taliban. Facebook also reportedly removed several user accounts linked to the Taliban's spokesperson Zabihullah. Officially, Facebook is taking the side of the law, precisely American law.

"The Taliban is sanctioned as a terrorist organisation under US law and we have have banned them," a Facebook spokesperson was quoted as saying by CNBC.com.

In the meantime, there was an important story by the third week of August.

As the Taliban grip over Afghanistan, enhanced, "residents across Afghanistan" were in a hurry deleting photographs from their mobile handsets and social media accounts that could 'somehow link' them to western countries.

Reports said certain advocacy groups such as AccessNow and Human Rights First have been distributing and translating the digital security guidelines in local Afghan languages.

 

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