Twitter will allow Taliban-affiliated accounts to continue using its platform despite its policies against glorification of violence and threats.
With the Taliban now regaining control over most of Afghanistan again after the Afghan government collapsed this week, social media companies are now forced to revisit their policies on pro-Taliban accounts either trying to recruit new members from around the globe or spreading disinformation about the ongoing civil war.
MediaIte first reported Tuesday that Twitter said in a statement it would “continue to proactively enforce its rules on glorification of violence, platform manipulation and spam,” but didn’t say it would suspend or ban any specific accounts. MediaIte pointed out that a prominent Taliban spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, is still active on the site. With over 300,000 followers, Mujahid was tweeting as recently as Aug. 17 promoting a press conference.
Twitter did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
Other pro-Taliban recruiters including those under the names Muhammad Ibrahim and Yousef Ahmandi still have active accounts. Colorado Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn reached out to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey about the issue and argued the Taliban shouldn’t be allowed on the platform because they’re clearly promoting violence.
“In my review of these accounts, I did not find a single fact check on any of their tweets, nor any warnings for false or misleading content,” Lamborn wrote in the Aug. 17 letter to Dorsey. “It is impossible to see how the accounts of Zabihullah Mujahid and Yousef Ahmandi do not violate your policies.
In some cases, Taliban spokespeople on Twitter are spreading outright misinformation about the events rapidly unfolding in Afghanistan, and claiming that the shift in power is just a “peaceful takeover,” Newsweek reported.
In response to criticism from Lamborn and others, Twitter said it will continue to review content on its site that’s posted by the Taliban — but didn’t say it had plans to ban any of it outright.
The company told Mediaite, “Twitter’s top priority is keeping people safe, and we remain vigilant,” and then tried to tout the social network’s capabilities to bring people together in the midst of the collapse of the Afghan government — the company said it was “witnessing people in the country using Twitter to seek help and assistance.”
Unlike its competitors TikTok and Facebook (and Facebook-owned Instagram), Twitter doesn’t have an outright ban on Taliban accounts. Facebook told CNBC it will continue to enforce a ban on Taliban accounts that’s been in place for “several years,” and added that it is a “terrorist organization… and we have banned them from our services.”
CNBC reported that TikTok has “designated the Taliban as a terrorist organization and that it continues to remove content that praises, glorifies or provides support to them.”
Facebook owns international private messaging platform WhatsApp, but the app encrypts chats, which makes it harder to root out pro-Taliban content.
A spokesperson for WhatsApp told Vice Aug. 16, “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 organization may have a presence on WhatsApp we take action.”