Facebook to protect Afghan’s social media accounts amid the fall of Kabul

August 20, 2021 | 2 minutes read

Facebook has brought in new safety measures to protect its Afghan users in response to the developing situation in Afghanistan where the Taliban has taken over the country.

The firm says it “removed the ability to view and search the ‘Friends’ list for Facebook accounts in Afghanistan” to protect people from being targeted. It is feared that the Taliban will pick on people that despised their rule and worked with the United States and other foreign countries. 

LinkedIn following Facebook has taken the step to hide the connections of users to protect them and their connections from any possible targeting. These steps have been taken amid the rising concerns that the Taliban are using social media to track opponents.

The additional safety measures were announced on Thursday 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,” Mr. 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”.

He 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”.

The tech giant had earlier confirmed that it will continue to ban Taliban content from its platform as it considers the group to be a terrorist organization. 

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 faced backlash for its handling of Taliban-related content in the past. Taliban spokesmen used the platform to communicate with their thousands of followers as they took over Afghanistan. 

Twitter responded to BBC questions earlier this week whereby a company spokesperson highlighted policies against violent organizations and hateful conduct.

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

In a statement emailed to the BBC, a LinkedIn company spokesperson reiterated:

“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.”