The Intercept described it as unprecedented..Facebook controls what the Taliban government publishes

Publication of the “Intercept” website (Intercept) American report In it, he says that Facebook is currently blocking the Afghan government, but it is allowing limited publishing to a few government institutions in Afghanistan, especially the Ministry of Interior.

The report, written by the site’s technology correspondent, Sam Biddle, said that after the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan and the rise of the Taliban, Facebook found itself with a power almost unprecedented in history, an American company that unilaterally controls the most popular means through which an entire foreign government speaks to its people.

He added that after the Taliban took power last August, Facebook initially tightened its control over the group, which it had already blacklisted, but that internal materials had made several exceptions to the Taliban ban, allowing certain government ministries to share content across the company’s platforms.

The Taliban has become a government

He explained that for years, Facebook had officially banned the Taliban and countless affiliated companies from using its platforms under the “company policy for individuals and organizations”, an internal blacklist that Facebook published last September, but the Taliban is no longer an organization like the Third Reich or al-Qaeda. Rather, it is a sovereign government engaged in the real business of running an entire country of millions of people.

An internal policy memo obtained by The Intercept shows that at the end of September, Facebook created an exception to “allow content shared by the Ministry of the Interior.” The memo only mentioned “important information about the new traffic regulations,” and that “we are evaluating the public value of this.” Content to bypass potential harm.” Two specific posts from the Ministry of Health will also be allowed on the basis that they contain information related to the “Covid 19” epidemic. However, despite the exceptions, the Ministry of Interior page was deleted at the end of last October, while The Ministry of Health’s page has not been published since the 2nd of the same month.

incomprehensible exceptions

The Home Office exemption would allow Afghans to receive information on a variety of important administrative functions, such as public security, driver’s licenses, and immigration matters, but such exemptions were not made for other offices with responsibilities vital to a country’s basic functioning, such as the ministries of agriculture, commerce, finance, and justice.

Facebook spokeswoman Sally Aldous said the Taliban remain banned from the company’s services through a “dangerous individuals and organizations policy,” adding that they continue to review content and pages against Facebook’s policies, and last month they removed several pages including those in the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Public Works. They did, however, allow some content related to the provision of essential public services in Afghanistan, for example, they were posted in August on the Afghan health page.

The writer said it is unclear how Facebook came up with this piecemeal approach to its Taliban policy, or how exactly it determined which government ministries would allow it. The Facebook spokeswoman declined to explain how these policy exceptions were formulated, or why they were not made public, and said that Facebook does not make decisions about the recognized government in any particular country but instead respects the authority of the international community to make those decisions, adding that they have a team They are specialists, including regional experts, who monitor the situation in Afghanistan and have a wide and growing network of local and international partners working with them to alert them to emerging issues and provide essential context.

Required to disclose Facebook’s policies

Experts say that such exceptions, even if they are well-intentioned, must publicly disclose not only their existence, but also how they were achieved to define them. Especially in a society like Afghanistan where the lack of internet infrastructure leads to greater dependence on the company’s products.

Masuda Sultan, co-founder of Women for Afghan Women, said that while the potential for Taliban propaganda is a concern, “Facebook platforms in Afghanistan may provide the only contact many people have in order to relay messages with entities in power, or even hear them these entities.

Last August, Sultan took advantage of the now-closed Taliban WhatsApp hotline when her nongovernmental organization’s office in Kabul was attacked amid the chaos of the US withdrawal. “It was important for us to be able to reach them because the police had given up their positions and we had no one else to contact, especially during emergencies, it is not helpful to shut down communications between ordinary people and those in power,” she added.

One man control

The author commented that while Facebook is a publicly traded company that at times consults and collaborates with both government experts and regional NGOs, it remains under the complete and overall control of one man, founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and its policy decisions ultimately are his. It is unclear how much the future of Afghanistan is a priority for Zuckerberg, even as his company’s undisclosed content policies continue to affect it.

While the US State Department has not designated the Taliban as a “terrorist” entity before, the group is subject to economic sanctions through the Treasury Department’s specially designated “Global Terrorism” List, a list of entities on which Facebook’s internal blacklist relies heavily.

Facebook has repeatedly referred to the list of “global terrorism” as the legal rationale behind the policy of dangerous individuals and organizations, claiming that it has no choice but to restrict such talk, although legal scholars deny that the company is legally obligated to censor the Taliban, as well as impose Control over those who want to mention it.

A broad subjective interpretation of the law

However, Facebook appears to operate on its broad and conservative interpretation of the law, one that critics say is based not on actual applicable laws but on corporate privileges.

By contrast, Twitter continues to allow the Taliban to use its platform without legal punishment of any kind. Yet Facebook is still under political pressure at home to deny the Taliban any benefit whatsoever, even if it means keeping Afghans in the dark.

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