As the Taliban took control of the Afghan capital of Kabul on Sunday, a spokesman for the group uploaded five videos to his official YouTube page. The videos, each between two and three minutes long, showed Taliban leaders congratulating fighters on their victories.
“Now is the time to serve the nation and to give them peace and security,” Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a co-founder of the Taliban, said in one video in Pashtun as he sat in front of senior officials in a curtained office.
Dozens of pro-Taliban accounts that had sprung up on Twitter in recent days then shared the five videos. Within 24 hours, they had together racked up more than half a million views.
The videos were part of an effort by the Taliban to establish their authority and legitimize their rule across Afghanistan through the use of social media, researchers said. But by publishing on Facebook and YouTube, the Taliban defied longtime bans by the platforms. The social media companies, following government guidelines, have largely designated the Taliban as a terrorist organization and don’t allow Taliban content on their sites.
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How social media is dealing with the Taliban takeover
It’s been two days since Kabul fell to the Taliban and social media giants are scrambling to figure out how to deal with the takeover of Afghanistan by the militants. On Tuesday, Facebook reiterated its ban on accounts praising, supporting, or representing the Taliban from its platforms, including WhatsApp and Instagram, and said that it would remove “accounts maintained by or on behalf of the Taliban.”