Google removes Taliban app from Play Store
Mon 4 Apr 2016
An app developed by the Taliban to promote the extremist group’s propaganda has been pulled from the Google Play Store for Android smartphones and other mobile devices.
‘Pashto Afghan News – Alemarah’ was designed to spread news and video content created by the Taliban via the mobile platform. The software was uncovered on Friday, and was taken down shortly after.
According to Google, the app violated its rules on hate speech. These measures state: ‘We don’t allow apps that advocate against groups of people based on their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.’
A Bloomberg report revealed that a Taliban spokesperson had said the app was part of its ‘advanced technological efforts to make more global audience,’ and confirmed that it had been removed due to ‘technical issues.’
The posts on the app were displayed in Pashto – the language used in Afghanistan and some areas of Pakistan.
While it doesn’t provide comment on specific apps, Google said ‘our policies are designed to provide a great experience for users and developers. That’s why we remove apps from Google Play that violate those policies.’
The Taliban and other militant groups including ISIS have made fierce efforts to spread their messages across the internet and social media. These attempts however have been met with huge backlash from tech and social media communities.
Twitter recently claimed that it suspended over 125,000 accounts for ‘threatening and promoting terrorist acts, primarily related to ISIS.’ It wrote in a February release: ‘We condemn the use of Twitter to promote terrorism and the Twitter Rules make it clear that this type of behavior, or any violent threat, is not permitted on our service.’
International activist group Anonymous argued that these account blocks were facilitated by ‘Anonymous, Anonymous affiliated groups and Everyday Citizens,’ under its #OpISIS campaign working to disrupt terrorist networks online. ‘If we stopped reporting terrorist accounts and graphic images, Twitter would be FLOODED with Terrorists,’ hacktivist WauchulaGhost tweeted last month.