Taliban to remain banned on Facebook, despite taking power in Afghanistan

·2-min read

Facebook has confirmed to Sky News that the Taliban will continue to be banned from operating Afghan government accounts on its platforms.

The militant group, which is designated a Dangerous Organisation under Facebook's policies, has in recent days swept to power in Afghanistan following the US withdrawal from the country.

The Taliban is not sanctioned as a terrorist organisation by the US State Department, nor is it proscribed by the UK or EU, although it has historically been sanctioned by Canada, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates.

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However the organisation is considered a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) by the US Treasury department, which means financial transactions with the group are prohibited.

As such it is not clear whether Facebook could legitimately refuse the group a governmental presence if its control of the country becomes internationally recognised.

"The Taliban is sanctioned as a terrorist organisation under US law and we have banned them from our services under our Dangerous Organisation policies," a Facebook spokesperson told Sky News.

Despite this the Taliban is not included on the State Department's list of sanctioned terrorist organisations, although Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, a separate organisation, is listed.

The US Treasury's sanction of the Taliban as an SDGT entity means that "any transaction or dealing by US persons or within the US... is prohibited" including "any contribution of funds, goods, or services".

Facebook explained that its Dangerous Organisation designation "means we remove accounts maintained by or on behalf of the Taliban and prohibit praise, support, and representation of them".

The spokesperson said a dedicated team of Afghanistan experts "who are native Dari and Pashto speakers and have knowledge of local context" are monitoring developments.

"Facebook does not make decisions about the recognised government in any particular country but instead respects the authority of the international community in making these determinations.

"Regardless of who holds power, we will take the appropriate action against accounts and content that breaks our rules," the spokesperson added.

An account belonging to the Taliban, known by the supposed pseudonym Zabihullah Mujahid, has been active on Twitter since 2017.

The group launched an official YouTube channel called Istiqlal Media in 2009 although this channel has since been removed.

A spokesperson for Google did not respond to Sky News' enquiries about the company's policies towards the group.

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