San Francisco: Facebook said on Tuesday that it was blocking WhatsApp accounts linked to the Taliban after a radical Islamic group seized control of Afghanistan and tried to use messaging services to help its governance.
“According to US law, the Taliban are sanctioned as a terrorist organization. According to our dangerous organization policy, we have prohibited them from using our services,” a Facebook spokesperson told AFP.
According to the British Financial Times, Facebook’s move shut down the WhatsApp hotline set up by the Taliban to receive complaints about violence and robbery.
A WhatsApp spokesperson stated in an email to Agence France-Presse that the company must comply with US sanctions.
“This includes banning accounts that appear to represent official Taliban accounts. In view of the changing situation in Afghanistan, we are seeking more information from relevant US authorities,” the company said.
“This means that we have deleted accounts maintained by or on behalf of the Taliban, and are prohibited from praising, supporting and representing them.”
When the news broke, social media platforms were under pressure to block Taliban accounts because the Taliban offensive led to the takeover of the war-torn country.
Facebook stated that it is using “a dedicated team of Afghan experts who are local Dari and Pashto speakers and understand the local situation” to help guide policy.
“Our team is closely monitoring the development of this situation. Facebook does not make decisions about the recognized government of any particular country, but respects the authority of the international community in making these decisions,” Facebook said.
A Taliban spokesperson also criticized Facebook for blocking the country’s “freedom of speech” because of the US company’s suppression.
In a live webcast press conference, a Taliban official answered a question about freedom of speech. He said: “This question should be asked to people who claim to be advocates of freedom of speech but are not allowed to publish all information. Facebook, this question You should ask them.”