Taliban takeover & looming crisis makes Facebook jump in to protect Afghan user accounts

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As Taliban moves in to further cement its grip on Afghanistan after seizing the capital Kabul and declaring ‘winning the war’, Facebook has jumped to provide safety to its Afghan users. The US company has extended a new safety measure for users in Afghanistan as concerns are raised over their security amid increasing Taliban crackdown.

Facebook has said that it has blocked the ability to view and search ‘Friends’ list for many Facebook accounts in Afghanistan. This is in attempt to safeguard identity of people and their contacts. Furthermore, professional networking site LinkedIn has also blocked connections access of people in Afghanistan. This is in response to latest information that the Taliban is tracking its opponents using social media.

“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,” tweeted Facebook’s head of security policy, Nathaniel Gleicher on Thursday.

He added that on Facebook-owned Instagram “we’re rolling out pop-up alerts in Afghanistan with specific steps on how to protect your account”. Mr Gleicher further added that Facebook was “working closely with our counterparts in industry, civil society and government to provide whatever support we can to help protect people”.

US based tech giant reiterated that it would continue to block Taliban content on the platform as the group is considered to be a terrorist organization. Twitter said, “The situation in Afghanistan is rapidly evolving. We’re also witnessing people in the country using Twitter to seek help and assistance.” It added that its “top priority is keeping people safe, and we remain vigilant”.

A LinkedIn company spokesperson said in an email to BBC, “Our team is closely monitoring conversations about developments in Afghanistan and taking action on any content that doesn’t follow our professional community policies. We’ve also taken some temporary measures including limiting the visibility of connections for our members in the country.”

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