Facebook is "proactively" removing content posted to its platforms that promotes the Taliban, a company executive told Bloomberg News on Tuesday.
As social media companies face scrutiny for how they treat the radical Islamist group that now controls Afghanistan, Facebook appears to have taken the lead by continuing to treat the Taliban as a dangerous organization whose content is banned on its platforms.
"We are relying on that policy to proactively take down anything that we can that might be dangerous or that is related to the Taliban in general," Adam Mosseri, the head of Facebook's photo-sharing app Instagram, said. "Now this situation is evolving rapidly, and with it I'm sure the risk will evolve as well. We are going to have to modify what we do and how we do it to respond to those changing risks as they happen."
In comments made to CNN, Facebook explained, "The Taliban is sanctioned as a terrorist organization under US law and we have banned them from our services under our Dangerous Organization policies."
The U.S. Treasury Department lists the Taliban on its Specially Designated Global Terrorists and a Specially Designated Nationals list.
The Taliban seized control of Kabul on Sunday, returning to the capital of Afghanistan for the first time in nearly two decades since U.S. forces drove the group into the countryside. According to the Washington Free Beacon, social media platforms like Twitter and WhatsApp were instrumental in spreading propaganda the Islamist group's leaders used to establish control over the city.
The Taliban reportedly used WhatsApp to provide Afghan regime officials and soldiers means by which they could negotiate their surrender. The Islamists also issued messages over social media warning against looting and the unauthorized intimidation of Afghan officials. A "complaint commission" set up by the Taliban posted WhatsApp numbers for city residents to call "if they face threats from anyone" and also set up an emergency broadcast system over the app.
A spokesman for Twitter told the Free Beacon that the company is "proactively removing content that violates our policies," including bans on content that threatens or promotes terrorism.
CNN reported that Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has an active, unverified Twitter account with 347,000 followers.
YouTube also says it will "terminate" accounts run by the Taliban, telling CNN in statement that the company "complies with all applicable sanctions and trade compliance laws, including relevant U.S. sanctions. As such, if we find an account believed to be owned and operated by the Afghan Taliban, we terminate it. Further, our policies prohibit content that incites violence."