Five major Taliban websites suddenly go dark

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The Taliban has been effectively booted from every major platform and social media network except for Twitter, a site that purports to stand against “hateful conduct” yet only seems to dole out punishment to its ideological foes.

The latest boot happened Friday when five Taliban-operated websites reportedly went dark, suggesting that they were either hacked or had their hosting services terminated.

“Taliban websites that delivered the victorious insurgents’ official messages to Afghans and the world at large in five languages went offline abruptly Friday, indicating an effort to try to squelch them,” the Associated Press reported.

“It is not immediately clear, though, why the sites in the Pashto, Urdu, Arabic, English and Dari languages went offline Friday,” the outlet added.

One possibility is that hackers shut down the website in retaliation for the Taliban’s abysmal behavior.

The more likely possibility is that the website was shuttered by its hosting service provider.

Not much can be ascertained at the moment because the websites were reportedly protected by Cloudflare, an online “shield” that, one, keeps the hosting details of websites private, and two, protects websites from potential hackers.

To operate a website, one needs to contract the services of a hosting service provider. An HSP maintains the physical infrastructure — i.e., the computers, servers, etc. — that actually contain the website and its data.

Because Cloudflare “prevents the public from knowing who exactly hosts the sites,” it’s not possible at the moment to just ring up the Taliban’s HSP and ask if they’ve terminated their contract with the terrorist group.

It’s the most likely scenario given all the other examples of networks and platforms — except for Twitter — booting the terrorist group.

According to Rita Katz, the director of the SITE Intelligence Group, an NGO that tracks terrorist activities, the Taliban were also booted from the instant messaging app WhatsApp on Friday.

As Katz noted in the tweet above, “Official accounts still housed on Twitter, though.”

But not Facebook.

“[T]he reported removal of the WhatsApp groups followed the banning of Taliban accounts by Facebook, the service’s parent company, on Tuesday after the U.S.-backed Afghan government fell to the Taliban,” according to the AP.

Facebook’s ban reportedly occurred after The New York Times ran a story calling out the social media network.

“The Taliban is sanctioned as a terrorist organization under US law and we have banned them from our services under our Dangerous Organisation policies. This means we remove accounts maintained by or on behalf of the Taliban and prohibit praise, support, and representation of them,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to the BBC afterward.

The Taliban have reportedly also been banned from Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.

But not Twitter.

“Twitter has not removed Taliban accounts and the group’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, has more than 300,000 followers there. The company indicated Tuesday that as long as such accounts observe its rules — including not inciting or glorifying violence — they will remain up,” according to the AP.

In a statement to CNBC, a Twitter spokesperson justified their appeasement by suggesting that the banning of the Taliban would prevent those who “seek help and assistance” — such as the people being brutalized by the Taliban — from reaching out.

“The situation in Afghanistan is rapidly evolving. We’re also witnessing people in the country using Twitter to seek help and assistance. Twitter’s top priority is keeping people safe, and we remain vigilant,” the spokesperson said.

“We will continue to proactively enforce our rules and review content that may violate Twitter rules, specifically policies against glorification of violence, platform manipulation and spam,” the spokesperson added.

Fact-check: FALSE.

Twitter is littered with tweets glorifying violence against conservatives and glorifying violence in general.

Look (*Language warning):

Vivek Saxena

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