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US social media firms face new challenge in Afghanistan | Business and Economy News | Al Jazeera

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Social media firms are split on how to treat content posted by the Taliban as only some of them consider it a rebel group.

The Taliban’s rapid takeover of Afghanistan poses a new challenge for big US tech companies on handling content created by a group considered “terrorists” by some world governments.

Social media giant Facebook confirmed on Monday that it designates the Taliban a terrorist group and bans it and content supporting it from its platforms.

But Taliban members have reportedly continued to use Facebook’s end-to-end encrypted messaging service WhatsApp to communicate directly with Afghans despite the company prohibiting it under rules against dangerous organisations.

A Facebook Inc spokesperson said the company was closely monitoring the situation in the country and that WhatsApp would take action on any accounts found to be linked with sanctioned organisations in Afghanistan, which could include account removal.

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The Taliban is on the company’s list of dangerous organisations and therefore any content promoting or representing the group is banned, Adam Mosseri, head of Facebook’s photo-sharing app Instagram, said on Monday during a Bloomberg Television interview.

“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,” Mosseri 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.”

On Twitter Inc, Taliban spokesmen with hundreds of thousands of followers have tweeted updates during the country’s takeover.

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Asked about the Taliban’s use of the platform, the company pointed to its policies against violent organisations and hateful conduct but did not answer Reuters questions about how it makes its classifications. Twitter’s rules say it does not allow groups that promote terrorism or violence against civilians.

The Taliban’s return has raised fears it will crack down on freedom of speech and human rights, especially women’s rights, and that the country could become a haven once again for violent groups.

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Taliban officials have issued statements saying they want peaceful international relations and have promised to protect Afghans.

Outsized influence

Major social media firms this year made high-profile decisions on handling sitting world leaders and groups in power.

These include controversial blocks of former US President Donald Trump for inciting violence around the January 6 Capitol riot and bans on Myanmar’s military amid a coup in the country.

Facebook, which was long criticised for failing to combat hate speech in Myanmar, said the coup escalated risks of offline harm and its history of human rights violations contributed to the ban on the ruling military or Tatmadaw.

The companies, which have come under fire from global lawmakers and regulators for their outsized political and economic influence, often depend on state designations or official international recognition to determine who is allowed on their sites.

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These also help determine who might be verified, allowed official state accounts or may receive special treatment for rule-breaking speech due to newsworthiness or public interest loopholes.

‘Subjective decisions’

However, the differences among the tech companies’ stances suggest the approach is not uniform.

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Alphabet Inc’s YouTube, asked whether it has a ban or restrictions on the Taliban, declined to comment but said the video-sharing service relies on governments to define “foreign terrorist organisations” (FTO) to guide the site’s enforcement of rules against violent criminal groups.

YouTube pointed to the US State Department’s list of FTO’s of which the Taliban is not a member. The US instead classifies the Taliban as a “specially designated global terrorist,” which freezes the US assets of those blacklisted and bars Americans from working with them.

Complicating matters further, though most countries show little sign they will recognise the group diplomatically, the Taliban’s position on the world stage may yet shift as they cement control.

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“The Taliban is somewhat an accepted player at an international relations level,” said Mohammed Sinan Siyech, a researcher on security in South Asia and doctoral candidate at the University of Edinburgh, pointing to talks China and the United States have held with the group.

“If that recognition comes in, then for a company like Twitter or Facebook to make a subjective decision that this group is bad and we will not host them poses complications.”

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5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android

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Alright, we get it. You’re an Instagram Nostradamus.

You know exactly what you want to post and when you’re gonna want to post it. Maybe there’s a meme or comment you want to make that you know will be totally relevant for a future moment or event. Or it could be that you’re an influencer and you want to make sure you keep a steady stream of content coming, so you want to schedule posts for times when you know you won’t be active (or won’t have internet access).

You’ll be happy to know there are apps that are specialized for just such situations. So listen up, InstaNostradamuses…Instagrostra…Instadam…Insta…uh…you guys (we’ll workshop it. No we won’t. We’ll probably just abandon that effort completely. You’re welcome) — these are the Instagram-post-scheduling apps for you.

While all of the iPhone apps below are free to download, they all have some in-app purchases.

1. Planoly

PLANOLY

We’ll start with “official partner” of Instagram, itself, Planoly — an Instaplanner that uses a grid to let you plan, schedule, and publish posts (as well as Reels) on Instagram. The app also lets you see post metrics and analytics so you can make sure your post didn’t flop.

Planoly is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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2. Buffer

BufferCredit: buffer / app store

Buffer is another Instagram post scheduler that helps you plan your posts and analyze feedback once they’re published. Use a calendar view to drag and drop posts into days/time slots for easy scheduling.

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Buffer is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

3. Preview

PreviewCredit: preview / app store

Preview offers typical post-scheduling tools and analytics along with a few helpful extras. Get caption ideas, recommendations for hashtags, and more.

Preview is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

4. Content Office

Content OfficeCredit: content office / app store

An Instagram post scheduler with a visual boost, Content Office allows users to plan and schedule Instagram posts while learning “marketing and visual guides to grow your brand on Instagram.” Like aesthetics and using visuals to create cohesive themes? Maybe this is the Instaplanner for you.

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Content Office is available for iOS on the Apple App Store.

5. Plann

PlannCredit: plann / apple store

You’ll never guess what “Plann” lets you do…

Aside from scheduling posts, get content ideas and recommendations, as well as strategy tips to ensure you’re maximizing your Instagram engagement. Ever wonder when the best time to post something is? Plann can offer you some help with that.

Plann is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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Social networking websites launch features to encourage users to get boosters

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Facebook Instagram and TikTok are launching new features to encourage people to get their coronavirus booster jabs.

From Friday, users will be able to update their profiles with frames or stickers to show that they have had their top-up jab or aim to when they become eligible.

It follows on from people previously being able to show they have had their first and second jabs on certain social networking websites and apps.

TikTok also held a “grab a jab” event in London earlier this year.

I urge everyone who is eligible – don’t delay, get your vaccine or top up jab today to protect yourself and your loved ones

More than 16 million booster vaccines have now been given across the UK.

People who are aged 40 and above and received their second dose of their vaccine at least six months ago are currently eligible to have their booster.

A new campaign advert is also being launched on Friday, which shows how Covid-19 can build up in enclosed spaces and how to prevent that from happening.

Vaccines minister Maggie Throup said:  “Getting your booster is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your family this winter.

“It is fantastic to see some of the biggest household names further back the phenomenal vaccine rollout, allowing their users to proudly display that they have played their part in helping us build a wall of defence across the country.

“I urge everyone who is eligible – don’t delay, get your vaccine or top-up jab today to protect yourself and your loved ones.”

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How many hashtags should you use to get the most ‘Likes’ on Instagram?

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Hashtags are a key feature of Instagram posts. In fact, they have become an essential means of ensuring more ‘Likes’ on social media – so long as you choose them wisely.

But how many hashtags should you use to maximise your popularity on the social network? The answer might surprise you.

It’s a question that many Instagram users ask themselves: what’s the right number of hashtags to add to a post? To find out, the Later platform analysed 18 million Instagram posts, excluding videos, Reels and Stories.

Interestingly, Later’s results differ from Instagram’s own recommendations. According to Later’s analysis, using more hashtags helps get better results in terms of “reach”, or the percentage of users exposed to the post. By using 20 hashtags, Later observed an optimal average reach rate of just under 36%. Using 30 hashtags gets the next-best reach rate. With five hashtags, reach hits just under 24%.

And while a post’s reach is important, engagement is even more so. From “Likes” and comments to shares and follows – on average, 30 hashtags appears to result in better engagement rates: “When it comes to average engagement rate, using 30 Instagram hashtags per feed post results in the most likes and comments,” says Later’s research.

Yet, at the end of September 2021, Instagram advised its creators to use between three and five hashtags for their posts, while warning them against using too many. The social network advised that using 10 to 20 hashtags per post “will not help you get additional distribution”.

For Later, there could be other reasons behind Instagram’s recommendations: “As Instagram continues to expand their discoverability and SEO tools, it makes sense that they want users to experiment with fewer, more relevant hashtags – this could help them accurately categorise and recommend your posts in suggested content streams, like the Instagram Reels feed or the updated hashtag search tabs,” the website explains. – AFP Relaxnews

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