Taliban ramp up on social media, defying bans by the platforms

AFGHANISTAN: As the Taliban took control of the Afghan capital of Kabul on Sunday, a spokesperson for the group uploaded five videos to his official YouTube page. The videos, each between two and three minutes long, showed Taliban leaders congratulating fighters on their victories.

“Now is the time to serve the nation and to give them peace and security,” Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a co-founder of the Taliban, said in one video in Pashtun as he sat in front of senior officials in a curtained office.

Dozens of new pro-Taliban accounts that had sprung up on Twitter in recent days then shared the five videos. Within 24 hours, they had together racked up more than 500,000 views.

The videos were part of an effort by the Taliban to establish their authority and legitimize their rule across Afghanistan through the use of social media, researchers said. But by publishing on Facebook and YouTube, the Taliban defied what have been longtime bans by the platforms. The social media companies, following government guidelines, have largely designated the Taliban as a terrorist organization and do not allow Taliban content on their sites.

The group’s renewed presence on social media has put Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in a tricky position. With governments around the world trying to figure out whether to officially recognize the Taliban as Afghanistan’s rulers, the companies have no easy answers as to whether to continue banning the group online.

That has drawn criticism, as the tech companies have in recent months suspended the accounts of some Republican lawmakers and others — seemingly with more ease. Facebook and YouTube removed the accounts of a Taliban spokesperson, Mohammad Naeem, Tuesday only after The New York Times requested comment on the accounts. The companies did not address why the accounts, which were formed in September, had been on their platforms even with the ban on the group.“So far, the approach of the tech companies is not very effective,” said Ayman Aziz, an independent researcher who has studied Afghanistan and Pakistan for more than a decade. “The Taliban is establishing a new presence, with their new regime, online.”- THE INDIAN EXPRESS

by Daily News Sri Lanka

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