Facebook Seeks International Guidance on Recognizing Regimes

August 17th, 2021 3:28 PM

As the Taliban appears to have taken the mantle in returning to rule Afghanistan, Big Tech companies are grappling with how to handle the legitimacy of a radical Islamic regime.

Big Tech companies like Facebook have to make a decision whether to recognize incoming regimes. Now in 2021, “[T]he Taliban’s swift push to wrest control of the Afghan government could soon force the platforms to make the same high-stakes decisions now confronting global leaders,” The Washington Post reported August 17. Facebook's Policy Communications Director Andy Stone reportedly explained to The Post that American company Facebook will take its cues from foreign powers: “‘Facebook does not make decisions about the recognized government in any particular country but instead respects the authority of the international community in making these determinations.’”

Regardless of whether Facebook ultimately makes the right call on whether to recognize a given regime, the platform’s decision to not prioritize American values is absurd.

“Stone said in a statement that the Taliban is banned from the company’s products under its policies against dangerous organizations,” The Post summarized. The newspaper further explained: “That means it will remove accounts maintained by the group or on its behalf, and prohibits ‘praise, support, and representation of them.’” 

The Post observed that “[b]y relying on guidance from the U.N. and others, platforms escape making politically dicey and highly consequential decisions on which regimes to recognize. The picture may not be so clear this time, though.”

However, Facebook may already be inadvertently assisting the Taliban with the company’s platform WhatsApp. The Taliban is reportedly using WhatsApp as a tool to privately communicate according to a VICE piece headlined “WhatsApp Can't Ban the Taliban Because It Can't Read Their Texts.” “[A WhatsApp] company spokesperson said that WhatsApp complies with U.S. sanctions law, so if it encounters any sanctioned people or organizations using the app, it will take action, including banning the accounts,” VICE explained. “This obviously depends on identifying who uses WhatsApp, without having access to any of the messages sent through the platform, given that the app uses end-to-end encryption. This would explain why WhatsApp hasn’t taken action against some accounts spreading the Taliban’s message in Afghanistan.”

Facebook reportedly claimed that it will continue a tough stance against posts that promote the Taliban for the foreseeable future.

“‘The Taliban is sanctioned as a terrorist organization under U.S. law and we have banned them from our services under our Dangerous Organization policies,’” a Facebook spokesperson reportedly told CNBC. The spokesperson explained further: “‘We also have a dedicated team of Afghanistan experts, who are native Dari and Pashto speakers and have knowledge of local context, helping to identify and alert us to emerging issues on the platform.’”

Conservatives are under attack. Contact Facebook headquarters at 1-650-308-7300 and demand that American Big Tech companies make policy decisions with American values in mind, not the opinions of foreign countries and international institutions. If you have been censored, contact us at the Media Research Center contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.