US technology companies Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have announced that they have taken steps on their social networks of the same name to protect Afghan users from possible reprisals by the Taliban insurgency. This has unexpectedly taken over Afghanistan over the weekend, and many residents now fear that the insurgents will take revenge on people who have worked with invading foreign troops for the past 20 years.
Human rights organizations warn that the Taliban could use internet platforms to monitor Afghan social ties and political views. Amnesty International, for example, said this week that thousands of Afghan university educators, journalists, and activists were at risk of reprisals. Many people there delete their profiles on social networks for sure.
In response to the situation, Facebook temporarily disabled browsing and searching the list of friends of Afghan users. Afghans also have the option of locking their profile with one click so that people outside their Facebook friends can’t see their posts or share their profile photos.
Twitter has announced that it is cooperating with the non-profit portal Internet Archive, which collects older versions of websites or, for example, posts on the social network Twitter. The aim of the cooperation is to ensure fast processing of requests for deletion of some archived posts. Twitter also offers the option to request the suspension of an account if a user cannot access it, and believes that it contains information that could put them at risk.
A spokesman for LinkedIn, which runs a professional social network of the same name, then announced that the company had stopped showing Afghan users who they had contacted on the platform.
Western countries, which recently withdrew their troops from Afghanistan after 20 years, are trying to evacuate some Afghans as soon as possible, who they say are facing the greatest danger after the rise of the Taliban. States often create special immigration programs to help vulnerable Afghans and their families flee the country.