Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn said this week they would ensure accounts of Afghan citizens are secured from being targeted by the Taliban.
This announcement came after reports that thousands of Afghans, including professors, journalists, and human rights campaigners, are facing Taliban reprisals despite the militant group’s promises not to do so.
Allegedly, warnings have emerged that the Taliban would track down Afghanis’ data on social media platforms and monitor their digital movements and online connections, according to Reuters.
Facebook’s security policy chief Nathaniel Gleicher tweeted on Thursday, Aug. 19, that the ability to see or search the friend lists of accounts in Afghanistan has been temporarily disabled.
The company also devised a “one-click tool for Afghans to disable their accounts, preventing non-friends from seeing their timeline updates or sharing their profile photographs.
Twitter told Reuters it was working with civil society groups to offer assistance to those at risk in Afghanistan. It added that it was urging the Internet Archive to speed up direct requests to erase archived tweets.
The company said if users cannot access accounts holding the information that would compromise their safety, such as direct messages or followers, Twitter can temporarily block the accounts until they regain access and erase their content.
Reuters reported that Twitter was rigorously monitoring government-affiliated accounts and would temporarily suspend those with pending information that leaked their identity.
Reuters revealed that LinkedIn had also joined the movement in protecting at-risk Afghans. The company had temporarily concealed its members’ contacts in Afghanistan so that other users could not see them.
Concerns over the safety of Afghans via their social media accounts have been raised in recent days.
“Today I’m calling them and telling them, take down their names, remove their identities, take down their photos for their safety,” said co-founder of the Afghan women’s football league, according to Reuters. “Even I’m telling them to burn down or get rid of your national team uniform.”
According to the Independent, it was reported that the insurgent group would not honor their media promises not to conduct night raids and arrests of suspects,
“Men came into our home in the middle of the night,” the brother of a student activist said. “They did not identify themselves and took my brother away. We went to the local police stations, but they are shut now. We went to a Taliban checkpoint, they said they didn’t know anything about it. We are very worried.”
Four Afghan commanders in Kandahar were also publicly executed despite the Taliban’s promises to seek a peaceful transfer of power.