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Facebook rolls out safety measures for users in Afghanistan after the Taliban’s swift takeover

By PINKY S. ICAMEN Published Aug 20, 2021 5:31 pm

Amid the swift Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, the social media giant recently announced that it has released safety measures for its Afghan users who are worried for their safety as there are concerns the Talibans are using social media to track their enemies.

On Thursday, Aug. 20, Facebook rolled out safety measures that were created with feedback from activists, journalists, and civil society groups. 

Amnesty International recently called for the protection of of thousands of Afghans—from academics and journalists, to women’s rights defenders—who are at serious risk of Taliban reprisals.

The company says it temporarily removed the ability for people to view or search the “Friends’ list” accounts in Afghanistan to help protect people from being targeted.

“We’ve launched a one-click tool for people in Afghanistan to quickly lock down their account. When their profile is locked, people who aren’t their friends can’t download or share their profile photo or see posts on their timeline,” Facebook security policy head Nathaniel Gleigher tweeted.

Facebook-owned Instagram is rolling out pop-up alerts in Afghanistan with specific steps on how to protect one’s account. 

Those who live outside Afghanistan but have friends in the country can also protect their friends  by tightening their own visibility settings. (Click here for instructions.)

The one-click tool Facebook launched as one of its safety features to help protect its users in Afghanistan from being tageted by the Taliban. Photo from @ngleigher on Twitter

“We’re working closely with our counterparts in industry, civil society and government to provide whatever support we can do to help protect people,” Gleigher said.

“And we’ve stood up on special operations center to respond to new threats as they emerge. We know that no single step is enough by itself in crises like this, but we’re watching closely as the situation develops and will take steps to help protect people in real time,” he concluded.

Facebook recently confirmed the ban on Taliban content from its platforms still continues as it considers the group to be a terrorist organization.