Twitter says Taliban can stay on platform if they obey rules
Unlike former President Donald Trump, the faces and voices of the reconstituted Taliban regime in Afghanistan can apparently tweet to their hearts’ content.
In a statement obtained by Mediaite Tuesday, Twitter ducked the question of whether it would bar representatives of the Islamic fundamentalist government from getting their message out 280 characters at a time — saying only that it would “continue to proactively enforce” its rules outlawing the “glorification of violence, platform manipulation and spam.”
“Twitter’s top priority is keeping people safe, and we remain vigilant,” the statement added.
Both official Taliban spokesmen have unverified accounts on Twitter. One, Zabihullah Mujahid, has more than 310,000 followers. His most recent tweet as of Tuesday afternoon promoted a press conference by Taliban leaders and drew hundreds of responses, many of them from well-wishers.
“Dear Zabihullah Mujahid Saib, First of all, I welcome you and then congratulate you on the complete liberation of Afghanistan,” read a typical message.
The other spokesman, Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, has more than 63,000 followers, and gained notoriety during the recent fighting for tweeting reports about the capture of various cities as the Taliban swept through the Afghan countryside.
Big Tech critics have expressed outrage over Twitter’s tolerance toward the Taliban after it banned Trump in the aftermath of the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the US Capitol. The company also recently suspended Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) after she questioned the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, but has permitted accounts affiliated with repressive governments like China and Iran to spread anti-American and anti-Israel propaganda.
“Why on God’s green Earth does the Taliban spokesman have an active Twitter account but not the former President of the United States?,” Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) tweeted Sunday. “Who’s [sic] side is the AMERICA BASED Big-Tech companies on?”
“Freedom and democracy are not doing well when #Twitter continues to ban #Trump’s account but relays the #Taliban spokesperson’s without any second thoughts,” agreed Jérôme Rivière, a member of the European Parliament representing France’s far-right National Rally party.
By contrast, Facebook has promised to enforce its ban on accounts that praise, support or represent the Taliban on all its platforms — including Instagram.
“The Taliban is sanctioned as a terrorist organization under US law and we have banned them from our services under our Dangerous Organization policies,” a Facebook spokesperson told CNBC.
A spokesperson for the encrypted chat app WhatsApp, which is also owned by Facebook, told Vice News that while “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.”
Google-owned YouTube vowed to CNN Tuesday that it would “terminate” any account it believes to be operated by the Afghan Taliban, while TikTok told CNBC it is removing content that supports or praises the militant group.
Twitter did not immediately respond to requests for comment by the Post.