As the Taliban consolidates control over Afghanistan, the debate over whether its accounts should be allowed on social media platforms has intensified.
“BREAKING: Twitter has suspended the account of Afghanistan’s elected President…
And have allowed the Taliban to keep their accounts. Can’t make this up,” reads the text of an Aug. 19 Instagram post. The Instagram post is a screenshot of a tweet by conservative activist Ryan Fournier.
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. Instagram is owned by Facebook. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
In the wake of the U.S. military’s withdrawal, the Taliban has beaten back the Afghan government as the two fight for power over the country. As the situation unfolded, a new Afghan president rose to power, and Twitter suspended two government accounts.
Afghanistan’s new president
Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani fled to the United Arab Emirates as the Taliban closed in on Kabul on Aug. 15, according to CNN. Two days later, Afghanistan’s First Vice President Amrullah Saleh declared himself the “caretaker,” or acting, president.
“As per the constitution of Afghanistan, in absence, escape, resignation or death of the President the FVP (First Vice President) becomes the caretaker President,” Saleh tweeted on Aug. 17. While Afghanistan’s Constitution does not include “escape” or “caretaker” in the English translation, Article 60 allows the first vice president to become president under these circumstances.
The Twitter account Saleh used to tweet this is not suspended as of this writing, and neither is Ghani’s. However, there are two other accounts affiliated with Afghanistan’s president and Saleh’s political party that Twitter has suspended. Twitter suspended the accounts @Afghpresident and @AfgGreenTrend as of Aug. 23.
In an email with PolitiFact, a spokesperson from Twitter said, “We’re proactively monitoring accounts affiliated with government organizations, and we may temporarily suspend accounts pending additional information from the account holder that allows us to confirm their identity.”
Both of these accounts seem to be legitimate. For example, the Associated Press called @Afghpresident the “de facto official presidential account” of Afghanistan in its reporting on the suspension. The Afghanistan Green Trend party used @AfgGreenTrend to update the public following an attack that injured Saleh and killed at least two others in 2019.
The Instagram post implies that Twitter suspended these accounts to legitimize the Taliban as the rulers of Afghanistan, but there is no evidence of this. There is also no evidence that Twitter suspended the accounts to retaliate against Saleh, as some users and outlets have suggested, since Saleh’s account where he declared himself president is still active.
The Taliban’s Twitter
As for the Taliban’s accounts, representatives from Facebook and YouTube told the New York Times that they consider the Taliban a terrorist organization and forbid the group from operating on their platforms. However, Twitter has taken a different route when dealing with accounts linked to the Taliban.
The Taliban isn’t banned from Twitter, but Twitter’s spokesperson told us they would take action against any content that violates their policies on glorifying violence, abusive behavior, hateful conduct, wishes of harm and gratuitous gore.
One Taliban spokesperson, Suhail Shaheen, has over 390,000 followers and recently tweeted that the group welcomes Afghans who have previously worked with the U.S. or the Afghan government’s administration. The Taliban has promised this before, but some Afghans believe they will be executed if the Taliban finds out about their previous work.
As the situation in Afghanistan continues to evolve, we’ll have to see whether Twitter will continue to allow the Taliban on their platform or if their accounts break the website’s rules.
According to the Washington Post, the Taliban has been careful to avoid suspension as they use social media to spread propaganda and present an image different from when they were last in power.
Meanwhile, some on Twitter have asked why the Taliban is permitted on Twitter while former President Donald Trump is not. Twitter permanently suspended Trump for tweets he sent after the riot at the Capitol.
An Instagram post claimed that “Twitter has suspended the account of Afghanistan’s elected President and have allowed the Taliban to keep their accounts.”
Twitter has not suspended the accounts of either acting president Amrullah Saleh or his predecessor Ashraf Ghani.
The two Twitter accounts @Afghpresident and @AfgGreenTrend are currently suspended. Twitter likely suspended the accounts pending verification of who controls them.
Taliban spokespeople have active accounts on Twitter, but they have not broken any of Twitter’s rules and are still allowed on the platform.
We rate this claim Half True.
Elon Musk Says He’ll Pay $11 Billion in Taxes in 2021 But Twitter Wants ‘Proof’
Elon Musk took to Twitter to clarify once and for all that he will be paying a whopping $11 billion as taxes this year.
If the number of times Elon Musk could count when someone has asked him to pay the full taxes, he would be a very rich..wait, never mind. The Tesla boss is rich beyond any private individual has been in history, reports said.
Musk has increasingly been facing criticism from many politicians and many others who insist he has not been paying taxes as compared to the profits his companies have been making. On Sunday, the SpaceX CEO took to Twitter to share that he will be paying a whopping $11 billion as taxes.
For those wondering, I will pay over $11 billion in taxes this year— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 20, 2021
But some of the questions did not stop. One person tweeted how they needed to see Musk’s tax returns while yet another asked how much percentage was that of his total income.
A few were, however scathing of the government who thought they will add that amount to their pockets rather than using it for some proper development.
Wow that’s enough to give each person in the world almost $2 million but instead the government will just stick it in their pockets— greg (@greg16676935420) December 20, 2021
Why not $200 billion? Asking for a Senator— litquidity (@litcapital) December 20, 2021
Earlier this week, Democratic US Senator Elizabeth Warren has tweeted to say that Musk should pay taxes and stop “freeloading off everyone else” after Time magazine named him its “person of the year”.
In response, Musk shot four tweets in which he said that the senator reminded him of a friend’s angry mom who yelled at everybody. He tweeted, ““And if you opened your eyes for 2 seconds, you would realize I will pay more taxes than any American in history this year.” “Don’t spend it all at once … oh wait you did already.”
He added further, “You remind me of when I was a kid and my friend’s angry Mom would just randomly yell at everyone for no reason.”
Musk responded by saying that he “will pay more taxes than any American in history this year”. This Twitter exchange left netizens divided as even though many supported Warren and agreed that Musk should pay more taxes, others felt that he was already doing enough.
Musk’s Tesla is worth about $1 trillion. Over the last few weeks, he has sold nearly $14 billion worth of Tesla shares.
The Tesla boss has been pushing for his colonize Mars agenda for years now, and has made it very clear in some occasions that he would rather spend the money on putting humanity on the red planet, than pay his taxes. “My plan,” the SpaceX founder tweeted about his fortune, “is to use the money to get humanity to Mars and preserve the light of consciousness.”
Twitter Admits Policy ‘Errors’ After Far-Right Abuse Its New Rules of Posting Pictures
Twitter’s new picture permission policy was aimed at combating online abuse, but US activists and researchers said Friday that far-right backers have employed it to protect themselves from scrutiny and to harass opponents.
Even the social network admitted the rollout of the rules, which say anyone can ask Twitter to take down images of themselves posted without their consent, was marred by malicious reports and its teams’ own errors.
It was just the kind of trouble anti-racism advocates worried was coming after the policy was announced this week.
“Anyone with a Twitter account should be reporting doxxing posts from the following accounts,” the message said, with a list of dozens of Twitter handles.
Gwen Snyder, an organizer and researcher in Philadelphia, said her account was blocked this week after a report to Twitter about a series of 2019 photos she said showed a local political candidate at a march organized by extreme-right group Proud Boys.
Rather than go through an appeal with Twitter she opted to delete the images and alert others to what was happening.
“Twitter moving to eliminate (my) work from their platform is incredibly dangerous and is going to enable and embolden fascists,” she told AFP.
But the rules don’t apply to “public figures or individuals when media and accompanying Tweets are shared in the public interest or add value to public discourse.”
By Friday, Twitter noted the roll out had been rough: “We became aware of a significant amount of coordinated and malicious reports, and unfortunately, our enforcement teams made several errors.”
“We’ve corrected those errors and are undergoing an internal review to make certain that this policy is used as intended,” the firm added.
Jack Dorsey Post Twitter Is Chasing His Crypto, Fintech Dream
At a packed Miami conference in June, Jack Dorsey, mused in front of thousands of attendees about where his real passion lay: “If I weren’t at Square or Twitter, I’d be working on Bitcoin.”
On Monday, Dorsey made good on one part of that, announcing he would leave Twitter for the second time, handing the CEO position to a 10-year veteran at the firm. The 45-year-old entrepreneur, who is often described as an enigma with varied interests from meditation to yoga to fashion design, plans to pursue his passion which include focusing on running Square and doing more philanthropic work, according to a source familiar with his plan.
Well before the surprise news, Dorsey had laid the groundwork for his next chapter, seeding both companies with cryptocurrency-related projects.
Underlying Dorsey’s broader vision is the principle of “decentralisation,” or the idea that technology and finance should not be concentrated among a handful of gatekeepers, as it is now, but should, instead, be steered by the hands of the many, either people or entities.
The concept has played out at Square, which has built a division devoted to working on projects and awarding grants with the aim of growing Bitcoin’s popularity globally. Bitcoin price in India stood at Rs. 44.52 lakh as of 12:50pm IST on December 1.
Dorsey has been a longtime proponent of Bitcoin, and the appeal is that the cryptocurrency will allow for private and secure transactions with the value of Bitcoin unrelated to any government.
The idea has also underpinned new projects at Twitter, where Dorsey tapped a top lieutenant – and now the company’s new CEO Parag Agrawal – to oversee a team that is attempting to construct a decentralised social media protocol, which will allow different social platforms to connect with one another, similar to the way email providers operate.
The project called Bluesky will aim to allow users control over the types of content they see online, removing the “burden” on companies like Twitter to enforce a global policy to fight abuse or misleading information, Dorsey said in 2019 when he announced Bluesky.
Bitcoin has also figured prominently at both of his companies. Square became one of the first public companies to own Bitcoin assets on its balance sheet, having invested $220 million (roughly Rs. 1,650 crore) in the cryptocurrency.
In August, Square created a new business unit called TBD to focus on Bitcoin. The company is also planning to build a hardware wallet for Bitcoin, a Bitcoin mining system, as well as a decentralised Bitcoin exchange.
Twitter allows users to tip their favourite content creators with Bitcoin and has been testing integrations with non-fungible tokens (NFTs), a type of digital asset that allows people to collect unique digital art.
Analysts see the transition as a positive signal for Square, the fintech platform he co-founded in 2009. Square’s core Cash App, after a bull run in its share in 2020, has experienced slower growth in the most recent quarter. It is also trying to digest the $29 billion (roughly Rs. 2,17,240 crore) acquisition of Buy Now Pay Later provider Afterpay, its largest acquisition ever.
But these ambitions will not pay off until years from now, analysts cautioned.
“The blockchain platform they’re trying to develop is great but also fraught with technical challenges and difficult to scale for consumers. I think he’ll focus more on Square and crypto will be part of that,” said Christopher Brendler, an analyst at DA Davidson.
© Thomson Reuters 2021
Interested in cryptocurrency? We discuss all things crypto with WazirX CEO Nischal Shetty and WeekendInvesting founder Alok Jain on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
Cryptocurrency is an unregulated digital currency, not a legal tender and subject to market risks. The information provided in the article is not intended to be and does not constitute financial advice, trading advice or any other advice or recommendation of any sort offered or endorsed by NDTV. NDTV shall not be responsible for any loss arising from any investment based on any perceived recommendation, forecast or any other information contained in the article.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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