(San Francisco) Facebook, which has banned all of its apps from the Taliban, revealed Thursday measures to protect vulnerable users in Afghanistan, where the Islamic fundamentalist group has seized power.
“For the past week, our teams have been working day and night to do everything possible to help keep people safe,” tweeted Nathaniel Glaisher, California Group Safety Regulations Director.
Based on the recommendations of human rights defenders, journalists and NGOs, the social network has implemented a feature that allows the user to “lock their account with one click”.
The lock prevents people who are not in their contacts from uploading or sharing their profile picture, or from seeing content posted in their feed. Instagram users in Afghanistan will receive notifications telling them how to protect their account.
“We have also temporarily withdrawn the ability to view a user’s ‘friend list’ and search for profiles there for Facebook accounts in Afghanistan,” Nathaniel Glaisher added, at the risk of targeting people who may be wanted by the Taliban.
He then recommends organizations and guides to protect his online activity.
On Tuesday, Facebook shut down a Taliban WhatsApp hotline set up to respond to potential complaints from Afghans.
We are forced to comply with US sanctions laws. This includes blocking accounts that present themselves as official accounts of the Taliban,” a spokesperson for the messaging service explained.
The Taliban responded by criticizing Facebook during their first press conference, which was broadcast online Tuesday.
When asked about their intentions regarding respect for freedom of expression, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid replied that “the question should be asked to those who guarantee that they are the guarantors of freedom of expression but do not authorize the publication of all the information. Facebook, they should ask the question.”
The Islamist group announced that it would form a government, but “no matter who holds the power, we will take appropriate action against accounts and content that violate our rules,” Facebook insisted.
The platform said it has a team of dedicated experts, who speak the country’s languages, to help them identify potential issues.
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