Facebook, TikTok won’t lift ban on posts that promote Taliban after the fall of Afghanistan

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Taliban fighters take control of Afghan presidential palace after the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Zabi Karimi)

 

  • Facebook and TikTok said they continue to view the Taliban as a terrorist organization and that content related to the group will remain banned on their platforms.
  • Afghanistan fell to the Islamic militant group over the weekend, as it seized the capital of Kabul as well as the Presidential Palace.
  • Facebook said it has a team of content moderators that is monitoring and removing posts, images, videos and other content related to the Taliban. 
    Taliban fighters with a vehicle on a highway in Afghanistan.
    Saibal Das | The India Today Group | Getty Images

    Facebook and TikTok said Tuesday they won’t lift bans on content that promotes the Taliban after the group took control of Afghanistan.

    The social media giants told CNBC they consider the Afghan group, which has used social media platforms to project its messages for years, to be a terrorist organization.

    Facebook said it has a dedicated team of content moderators that is monitoring and removing posts, images, videos and other content related to the Taliban. It’s unclear how many people are on the team.

    The Taliban’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, criticized Facebook for censorship in a public press conference in the capital of Kabul on Tuesday, claiming the group’s freedom of speech is being stifled by the tech giant’s ban. Facebook reportedly removed several user accounts linked to Mujahid this week after they were flagged to the company by journalists at The New York Times.

    Afghanistan fell to the Islamic militant group over the weekend as it seized Kabul, including the Presidential Palace. After President Joe Biden’s April decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban made stunning battlefield advances — and nearly the whole nation is now under the insurgents’ control.

    A Facebook spokesperson told CNBC: “The Taliban is sanctioned as a terrorist organization under U.S. law and we have banned them from our services under our Dangerous Organization policies.”

    The Taliban has been banned from Facebook for several years, the spokesperson said.

    Facebook said this means it removes accounts that are maintained by or on behalf of the Taliban, as well as those that praise, support and represent them.

    “We also have a dedicated team of Afghanistan experts, who are native Dari and Pashto speakers and have knowledge of local context, helping to identify and alert us to emerging issues on the platform,” the Facebook spokesperson said. 

    Facebook said it does not decide whether it should recognize national governments. Instead, it follows the “authority of the international community.”

    TikTok declined to share a statement but told CNBC that it has designated the Taliban as a terrorist organization and that it continues to remove content that praises, glorifies or provides support to them.

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