Social Media Tries To Protect Afghan Users

Facebook has brought in new safety measures for users worried for their safety in Afghanistan, as the Taliban continue to cement their grip on power. Many people in the country have been trying to make their digital footprints disappear as they are concerned about being watched  and fear Taliban reprisals. 

In a move aimed to help their users, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have moved to secure the accounts of those who may be at risk.

Facebook has launched a one-click tool for people in Afghanistan to quickly lock down their account. Facebook says it has "removed the ability to view and search the 'Friends' list for Facebook accounts in Afghanistan" to protect people from being targeted. 

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

The additional safety measures were announced by Facebook's head of security policy, Nathaniel Gleicher. "We've launched a one-click tool for people in Afghanistan to quickly lock down their account. When their profile is locked, people who aren't their friends can't download or share their profile photo or see posts on their timeline," Gleicher tweeted. He said that on Facebook-owned Instagram "we're rolling out pop-up alerts in Afghanistan with specific steps on how to protect your account".

LinkedIn has taken similar measures by hiding the connections of anyone known to be located in Afgahnistan.

Twitter has said that it would ban Taliban content from its platform as it considers the group to be a terrorist organisation.
Meanwhile, Twitter said in a statement this week that its "top priority is keeping people safe, and we remain vigilant... The situation in Afghanistan is rapidly evolving. We're also witnessing people in the country using Twitter to seek help and assistance."

Twitter has come under particular scrutiny for its handling of Taliban-related content since various Taliban spokesmen have been using the platform to update hundreds of thousands of their followers as the militant group retook control of Afghanistan. 

According to its rules, Twitter does not allow groups that promote terrorism or violence against civilians.

Nathaniel Gleicher / Twitter:       Zawya:    Gadgets Now:     Hindustan Times:   

Business Standard:   VOA:     Yahoo:    BBC:    

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