Taliban plans to block access to Facebook

Proposal to ban Facebook highlights worsening censorship under Taliban rule, CPJ says

3 mins read
Taliban plans to block access to Facebook
A Taliban fighter uses his phone on a rooftop in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in Kabul (AFP)

In Afghanistan, the Taliban announced plans to restrict or completely block access to Facebook, a move condemned by rights activists.

Najibullah Haqqani, the Taliban’s acting minister of telecommunications and information technology, confirmed the plans in an interview with Kabul-based TOLO news last week.

In Afghanistan, reeling from two decades of siege and war, millions of people have limited access to cellular services and internet connectivity, and there is a widening information blackout.

The de facto authorities have already banned girls’ and women’s education and work, formal educational institutions, musical entertainment, hairdressing and grooming services, and many everyday activities such as women’s access to national parks, public spaces and parks.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said on Monday that the hardline Islamist regime had also banned the Facebook pages of foreign news organizations such as the BBC, the US Congress-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, and German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle, although readers in the country can still access them.

CPJ said the decision to restrict or block Facebook in Afghanistan would “deal another blow to freedom of information” in the war-torn country.

He also drew attention to the detention of journalists in Afghanistan, the closure of Afghan news websites and restrictions on access to foreign media outlets.

Beh Lih Yi, CPJ’s Asia Program Coordinator, condemned the latest plan by the Taliban’s interim regime.

Yi made the following statements:

Social media platforms, including Facebook, have helped fill the void left by the decline of the Afghan media industry since the Taliban took over in August 2021 and the subsequent crackdown on press freedom. The proposed ban highlights the Taliban’s worsening censorship.

CPJ noted that Facebook is one of the most popular social media platforms used to disseminate news and information in Afghanistan.

The TOLO news channel alone has more than 4.5 million followers on Facebook.

Just one day after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan following the fall of Kabul in August 2021, Facebook declared that it would continue to ban Taliban content on its platforms, labeling the Taliban a terrorist organization.

Facebook officials added that they have set up a team of Afghan experts to monitor and remove content linked to the organization.

The Taliban also has a virtual presence on X, formerly known as Twitter. In 2023, the organization was found to be using the paid verification feature of the Elon Musk-owned website to display blue ticks on its accounts.



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