Facebook Yanks Off Afghan Media Pages Controlled By Taliban

Facebook Yanks Off Afghan Media Pages Controlled By Taliban
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Facebook has removed the accounts of at least two state-owned media outlets in Afghanistan, the company confirmed on Friday, saying it was complying with laws in the United States listing the Taliban as a ‘terrorist organisation’.

Africa Daily News, New York reports that since taking over in August of last year, the Taliban have used Facebook and Twitter liberally. They also tightly control the nation’s state-owned media, which includes radio, TV, and newspapers.

The state broadcaster National Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA) and the privately owned Bakhtar news agency both claimed that they had been blocked, despite Facebook parent company Meta failing to name the prohibited media outlets.

Private media companies’ Facebook sites appeared untouched.

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‘The Taliban is sanctioned as a terrorist organisation under U.S. law and they are banned from using our services,’ a Meta spokesperson told reporters in a statement.

‘We remove accounts maintained by or on behalf of the Taliban and prohibit praise, support, and representation of them,’ it added.

Government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid criticised the blocking, saying it showed “impatience and intolerance” by the US firm.

‘The slogan ‘Freedom of expression’ is used to deceive other nations,’ he tweeted.

RTA director Ahmadullah Wasiq said in a video statement that the Pashto and Dari-language pages of the organisation on Facebook and Instagram had been closed ‘for unknown reasons’.

‘RTA is a national institution — the voice of the nation,’ he said.

Bakhtar also urged Facebook to reconsider, saying on Twitter: ‘The only goal of this news agency is to share accurate, timely and comprehensive information to its audiences.’

On Thursday, the hashtag ‘#BanTaliban’ was trending on Twitter, with thousands of users calling for Taliban accounts on that platform to be blocked.

The Taliban have made prolific use of Twitter since seizing power.

While most accounts linked to the former Western-backed government have been dormant since the takeover, new “official” ones have proliferated — although none with Twitter’s blue tick of authenticity.

Africa Daily News, New York

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