Without social networks there is no possible revolution. By now everyone knows: if you want to convince a people, or the international community, and you need your message to catch on, it is essential to make use of the Internet.
And the Taliban, who have been roaming Afghanistan for two weeks now, are no exception . Although Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp have banned any account run by members of the extremist group , the organization has encountered no obstacles to making Twitter one of its main speakers .
ABC has consulted the bird’s social network on several occasions in recent days about the measures in which it has been working to control messages Taliban leaders, as well as the company’s policy regarding the situation in Afghanistan .
So far, the platform continues to maintain that its moderation efforts are mainly dedicated to eradicating any content that incites hatred or violence. It has no plans, therefore, to close accounts in the hands of the Taliban . At least, as long as they do not violate their conditions of use. And, for the moment, the group is following them to heart.
“Our teams provide global coverage 24 hours a day and 7 days a week to proactively enforce our rules and be able to act quickly with content that violates them,” stated just a few days ago the application to this newspaper. The social network pointed out, in turn, that it is prioritizing enforcing its rules on “glorification of violence, abusive behavior, hateful behavior, desire to do harm and gratuitous violence.”
Precisely, the possibility that the fundamentalist group has been able to use the social network, as long as it complies with the established norms, has allowed the number of followers of its main leaders and spokespersons to have gained significant weight in recent days. Something that, as ‘Voz Populi’ anticipated, anyone can check by taking a quick look at analytical tools in social networks such as Social Blade , which allows you to check the growth of an account on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
Hundreds of thousands of followers in a month
Zabihullah Mujahid , a spokesman for the Taliban and a Twitter account since April 23, 2017, is among those with the most followers in recent weeks. Mujahid, who lately uses his account mainly to inform citizens about the measures that the group is taking, currently has almost 360,000 ‘followers’.
According to the Social Blade tool, 130,932 accounts have started to follow your profile in the last month . Most of them (68,201) did so between August 12 and 18, coinciding with the conquest of Kabul by the fundamentalist group.
During the last month, according to information from the tool, the Taliban leader has published 667 tweets. An increase of 15.7% compared to its previous activity. Since August 17, just over a week ago, he has amassed 60,000 new followers.
For his part, Mohammed Naeem , also a spokesperson for the Islamist group and with a Twitter account since September 2020, has obtained 91,633 followers in the last 30 days , according to Social Blade, which has allowed it to currently have 241,494.
As in the case of Mujahid, he uses his account to report on the group’s new movements in Kabul. In his latest post on Twitter, in the form of a thread, he shares details about a recent meeting between Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, the deputy head of Taliban political affairs, and a German delegation in the Qatari city of Doha.
However, the group’s main voice on the platform is that of Suhail Shaheen , a member of the political and negotiations team and the group’s spokesperson for the media. With an account on the platform since February 16, 2019, it currently has 409,215 ‘followers’ .
Of these, 129,932 have started following you in the past 30 days, according to Social Blade. As in the case of the previous ones, the peak of his account’s growth occurred between August 12 and 18, a period in which he got 69,441 new profiles to start paying attention to his tweets. Unlike Mujahid and Naeem, who opt for Pashtun, Shaheen publishes his publications in English.
A source of information
As this newspaper has been able to verify, the Taliban leaders, to date, use their accounts on social networks mainly to share the media that are being promoted in Afghanistan. Also to inform the public. Precisely, the latest tweets posted on the platform by Mujahid are to ask Afghans to refrain from smuggling antiquities from the country.
Experts consulted by ABC in recent days maintain that the Twitter accounts of Taliban spokesmen can help to better understand the situation in the country and the plans of its leaders. This was expressed by the defense analyst Jesús Manuel Pérez Triana or the former president of Red.es, Borja Adsuara .
Twitter is a source widely used by fundamentalists, and that makes it a source of information. Thanks to its existence, the rest of the countries can have them controlled. Closing them would mean going blind to certain information “, pointed Adsuara in this regard.