Here’s how Facebook, Twitter are securing Afghan accounts amid Taliban takeover

Published on Aug 20, 2021 05:57 AM IST

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have said they are taking several steps to protect Afghan users after the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan.

Afghans are trying to flee their country after the Taliban took over. (AFP Photo)
Afghans are trying to flee their country after the Taliban took over. (AFP Photo)
By | Written by Meenakshi Ray

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have said they are securing the accounts of Afghan citizens to protect them against the Taliban after they took over Afghanistan. Facebook’s security policy head Nathaniel Gleicher tweeted on Thursday that the social media company has temporarily removed the ability for people to view or search the friends' lists of accounts in Afghanistan. Facebook launched a "one-click tool" for users in Afghanistan to lock down their accounts, Gleicher also said. This means that people who are not their Facebook friends would not be able to see their timeline posts or share their profile photos.

Twitter Inc said it was in touch with civil society partners to provide support to groups in Afghanistan. It is working with the Internet Archive to expedite direct requests to remove archived tweets, Twitter said. Twitter also said that if users were unable to access their accounts, which have information that could put them at risk, it could temporarily suspend them until people regain access and are able to delete the content. Twitter also said it was proactively monitoring accounts affiliated with government organisations and might temporarily suspend accounts pending additional information to confirm their identity.

Also read | Taliban conduct raids at closed Indian embassies in 2 cities: Intel

"On Instagram, we’re rolling out pop-up alerts in Afghanistan with specific steps on how to protect your account," Twitter's Gleicher said in a series of tweets.

According to Reuters, a LinkedIn spokesperson said that have temporarily hidden the connections of its users in Afghanistan so other users would not be able to see them.

The Taliban, who are on social and regularly post videos, have found ways to evade restrictions on YouTube, Facebook and WhatsApp. Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid has been posting regular updates to more than 300,000 followers, including international media, on Twitter.

Human rights groups have said that the Taliban could use online platforms to track Afghans' digital histories or social connections. Amnesty International said this week that thousands of Afghans, including academics, journalists and human rights defenders, were at serious risk of Taliban reprisals.

Also read | G7 foreign ministers call for ‘shared mission’ to prevent crisis in Afghanistan

The Taliban have promised rights for women and an inclusive government as well as full amnesty for all who worked with the Western-backed elected Afghan government. However, tens of thousands of people are trying to escape the country fearing reprisals and remember the Taliban's ultra-conservative Islamic regime from 199 to 2001, when they handed out brutal punishments.

Also read | Desperate Afghan women throw babies over razor wire at Kabul airport compound

AFP cited a confidential United Nations document as saying that the Taliban are intensifying a search for people who worked with US and Nato forces despite saying they won’t take revenge against opponents. The report, which was provided by the UN's threat-assessment consultants and seen by AFP, says the group has "priority lists" of individuals it wants to arrest. According to the report, people who had central roles in the Afghan military, police and intelligence units are those among most at risk.

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