However, he said that most platforms, including Facebook and its sub-WhatsApp, would be controlled by Taliban-run accounts. The Taliban’s efforts to oppose or restrict restrictions on their online activities show that the militant group is heavily dependent on Western technology companies and the Internet – and that it could be overthrown by the group’s decades-long ban on the Internet.
“In general, various social media platforms and messaging apps have played an important role in the Taliban’s media strategy,” said Weda Mahara, an educator and extremist expert at extremist group propaganda at the University of Exeter.
“The Taliban are really trying to change their narrative and they are really trying to change their attitude,” he said. “And so I think you’re seeing that transition now. A lot of the huge use of smartphones and a lot of them are now available in Afghanistan. … You’ve noticed that you can use these technologies.
From enforcing internet restrictions to fleeing
Mehran said the Taliban’s current online presence really began after the militant group was ousted in 2001 when it began posting videos and sharing messages online. Since then, he has enthusiastically embraced platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Telegram, none of which have been in power for the last time.
As a result, the Taliban are trying to get around them instead of imposing an internet ban – at least for now.
A Facebook spokesman said: “The Taliban have been banned under US law as a terrorist organization and have been banned from operating in accordance with our terrorist organization’s policies.” A WhatsApp spokesman declined to comment specifically on the helpline, saying it was “compulsory to comply with US sanctions”, which included “blocking accounts that appear to represent themselves as official Taliban accounts.”
YouTube says it will continue to “cut off” Taliban accounts. Twitter has not actively banned Taliban accounts, but a spokesman for the company said: “The priority is to keep people safe, and we are vigilant.”
“I think at the end of the day, [the Taliban] You do not want the Internet to be blocked. I don’t think they want YouTube out of the country, I don’t think they want Google out, I don’t think they want Facebook or Twitter to just roll out, ”Gori-Ahmed said.
If the Taliban are officially recognized by the international diplomatic community, the relationship between the Taliban and the technology community could be even more complex – depending on the current state of affairs in Afghanistan.
“If the Taliban allows an all-inclusive government, and they … if they are part of that government, they have, in principle, lost their legitimacy in Afghanistan, because they will be represented by other groups,” Mehran said. If that happens, it can be difficult to dislike the militant group like Facebook and YouTube.
Uncertain future for online statement
The Taliban’s approach to the Internet may not have allowed the Afghan people to speak, but it did not say what the group said.
Looking ahead, the Taliban really want to use technology for its own public relations and propaganda purposes. But now that he is in control of Afghanistan, he may want to restrict social media in an effort to reduce the population of Afghanistan. It’s access to information, ”said Madiha Afzal, a partner at the Brookings Institution’s foreign policy program. If platforms like the Taliban and Twitter try to restrict access, Afghans need to know how to keep up with Taliban propaganda while trying to keep their platforms afloat.
At the same time, he urges the Taliban to abide by Islamic law, which can only be added to the challenges facing the Taliban’s online content in the country. I think it’s very difficult for many technology companies to know how to navigate that market.
Beyond that, the Taliban may use social media in a more hostile way – to search for and follow Afghans who have worked with the US government or the military.
Twitter is working with an online archive to resolve users’ requests to remove old tweets, and offers an option to temporarily block accounts if Afghan users are unable to access content. “It has taken some temporary measures, including restricting the visibility of communications, to help members in the country understand how to hide their profiles from public view,” Linken said.
Although he wants to paint a more accurate picture of the days after the Taliban took control, there are no guarantees that US troops will leave the country by the end of this month. After that, it will only be a matter of time before Afghans lose their ability to use social media.
“If that is silenced by the Taliban, and that is not accessible to them, then that really has to tell technology companies a lot about the Taliban,” Mehran said. The Taliban … should be allowed to attend those forums.