HomeTechnologyExplained: How Facebook, TikTok are banning posts that promote Taliban

Explained: How Facebook, TikTok are banning posts that promote Taliban


The Taliban has seized control of Afghanistan after the withdrawal of troops by the US in the region. In the last few days, the Afghan militant group have swiftly moved in to take the entire nation under their control. In such volatile times, social media can be used to cause further unrest. Keeping that in mind, social media companies have taken steps and even banned the Taliban from their platforms. We explain why and how they are keeping pro-Taliban content from their platforms


Facebook and Instagram’s complete ban of Taliban

The Taliban has been banned from Facebook for many years now. However, there are accounts that are run on their behalf. A Facebook person told CNBC that the “Taliban is sanctioned as a terrorist organisation under US law and we have banned them from our services under our Dangerous Organization policies.”
Facebook does not allow any organisations or individuals that proclaim a violent mission or are engaged in violence to have a presence on its platform. Further, no content that praises Taliban or any acts committed by them are not allowed.
Facebook has a team of dedicated experts from Afghanistan, who as per the CNBC report, are Dari and Pashto speakers. They have the knowledge of local context and help in identifying any emerging issues on the platform. For example, a post supporting or praising the Taliban is put up on Facebook the the social media platform says that it will remove it. If it is a part of the group or Pages or events, the admins of these Pages, groups and events will also be removed by Facebook. Facebook’s policies are applicable to Instagram as well, so all the same rules apply to the photo and video sharing platform as well.

What is WhatsApp doing on the issue

Since WhatsApp is an end-to-end encrypted platform, it’s a bit tricky to keep an eye on. According to a report by The Washington Post, the Taliban have been using the instant messaging platform to communicate with residents. A WhatsApp spokesperson made it clear in a statement to Vice that it cannot access personal chats but is still taking steps. “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 organisation may have a presence on WhatsApp we take action,” the WhatsApp spokesperson said.
While WhatsApp cannot read messages, a Facebook spokesperson told CNBC that it uses “AI software to evaluate nonencrypted group information including names, profile photos, and group descriptions to meet legal obligations.” Through the AI software WhatsApp can get some information which could lead to bans from the platform.


What are Twitter, YouTube and others doing?

Unlike Facebook and Instagram, Twitter doesn’t ban anyone as such in Afghanistan. Twitter said that its platform is being used by people to seek help and assistance in what is a “rapidly evolving situation. “Twitter’s top priority is keeping people safe, and we remain vigilant,” a Twitter spokesperson was quoted as saying. Twitter further said that it will enforces its rules and review content that may violate them.

TikTok, which isn’t banned in Afganistan, said that it considers Taliban a terrorist organisation. Any content that promotes, supports or glorifies the Taliban will be removed by TikTok.
YouTube, on the other hand, said that content that it allows content that provides sufficient educational, documentary, scientific and artistic context. YouTube didn’t say whether it has banned Taliban or not but did mention that accounts that are believed to be run by the group are not allowed in the platform.
The big challenge in front of social media
Back in the 90s and early noughties, when the Taliban rule was well established in Afghanistan, there was no social media. Over the years, social media has become the playground of politics is often used for hate speech, violence among other issues. While the likes of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube have been taking steps in combating the issue, tackling the Taliban takeover will be a huge challenge. Chances of social media being used for the wrong reasons remain high it’s up to the big social media firms to deal with the challenge effectively and efficiently.



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