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Social Media Giants Face Challenge Dealing with Content Created by Terrorists

CIO Insider Team | Tuesday, 17 August, 2021
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US social media giants face problems in handling content in what is supposedly thought to be created by terrorists from some world governments during the Taliban invasion of Afghanistan.

Facebook revealed that it has designated the Taliban as a terrorist organization and has banned it, as well as content promoting it, from its services.

Despite Facebook's prohibition under its rules against violent organizations, Taliban members are said to have continued to use the end-to-end encrypted messaging tool WhatsApp to interact directly with Afghans.

It’s said that Facebook has been keeping watch of the country’s situation and that WhatsApp would impose consequences on any accounts found to be linked with the sanctioned organizations in Afghanistan and would even cancel accounts when it comes down to it.

Coming to Twitter, it’s viewed that the terrorist group has been making updates ever since the country’s invasion.

To determine who is allowed on their platforms, social media companies, which have come under pressure from worldwide lawmakers and regulators for their disproportionate political and economic power, frequently rely on state designations or recognized international recognition.

"If that recognition comes in, then it becomes more complicated for companies like Twitter or Facebook to make a subjective conclusion that this group is evil and we will not host them”, adds Siyech.

These also aid in determining who or what can be vetted, granted official state accounts, or given special consideration for breaking the rules owing to newsworthiness or public interest loopholes.

The differing positions of the tech companies, on the other hand, imply that the approach is not exactly universal.

YouTube linked to a list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) maintained by the US State Department, of which the Taliban is not a member. As the US designates the Taliban as a specially designated global terrorist, freezing their assets in the US and prohibiting its citizens from engaging with them.

Adding more to the complications, the Taliban's status in the world arena may evolve as they consolidate control, despite the fact that most governments have shown a little hint of diplomatic recognition.

Facebook was once criticized for failing to tackle hate speech in Myanmar, saying the crisis increased the potential of offline violence and that the military's history of human rights violations contributed to the ban on the ruling Tatmadaw.

"At an international relations level, the Taliban is somewhat of an acceptable player”, says Mohammed Sinan Siyech, a researcher on security in South Asia and doctoral candidate at the University of Edinburgh, citing negotiations between China and the US with the group.

"If that recognition comes in, then it becomes more complicated for companies like Twitter or Facebook to make a subjective conclusion that this group is evil and we will not host them”, adds Siyech.

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