On Tuesday, Twitter admitted in a statement that they have no plans to ban the official accounts of the Taliban and its spokesmen, even after the radical Islamist group had seized control of the nation of Afghanistan over the weekend, as reported by the New York Post.
When asked about maintaining such accounts, the statement released by Twitter mostly dodged the issue and deferred to basic platitudes about how the social media giant would “continue to proactively enforce” its rules, and would only ban tweets that include “glorification of violence, platform manipulation, and spam.”
Although the accounts of the Taliban’s two main spokesmen are unverified, they have not yet been banned and have been actively tweeting during the Taliban offensive that claimed the Afghan capital of Kabul on Sunday. Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has over 310,000 followers, while Qari Yousaf Ahmadi has over 63,000. Mujahid has largely covered official actions by Taliban leadership such as press conferences, while Ahmadi has provided updates on advances in the Taliban’s campaign to retake city after city across the country.
Twitter faced condemnation online from critics who pointed out that, while the Taliban and other radical Islamic terrorists and groups are allowed to continue tweeting, the platform had banned President Donald Trump in the final month of his first term in office, while he was still the sitting president. Trump, who had garnered nearly 89 million followers before the ban, had occasionally been censored by Twitter in the previous year over alleged “misinformation” during the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.
Among those who called out Twitter’s double-standard was Congressman Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), who asked “Why on God’s green Earth does the Taliban spokesman have an active Twitter account, but not the former President of the United States?” Jerome Riviere, a French member of the European Parliament representing the populist National Rally party, said that “freedom and democracy are not doing well when #Twitter continues to ban #Trump’s account but relays the #Taliban’s spokesperson’s without any second thoughts.”
Even other social media platforms have acknowledged the radicalism of the Taliban, with Facebook having designated them as a terrorist group in accordance with United States law, and thus having banned them from all of their platforms. YouTube, which is owned by Google, has also vowed to delete any accounts that are owned or run by the Taliban, and the Chinese-owned app TikTok has said it will remove any content that is supportive of the group.