The Taliban already have a presence on Twitter and Facebook, and has its own websites to push its propaganda — but now they have thrown in an app too.
You may have seen an app called “Pashto Afghan News – alemarah” on the Google Play Store on Friday, and it was no April Fools’ joke. The news app launched on April 1, according to SITE Intel Group, but was already taken down by the next day.
The app was removed to fix some “technical issues,” according to Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed, who spoke to Bloomberg. He added that the app will be back soon.
But though a Google spokesperson told Digital Trends the company doesn’t comment on specific apps, they alluded to removing Alemarah from the Play Store.
“Our policies are designed to provide a great experience for users and developers,” the spokesperson said. “That’s why we remove apps from Google Play that violate those policies.”
The app featured content in the Pashto language, and included statements and videos from the Taliban. Alemarah is the name of the propaganda network used by the Taliban, and the app is hardly its first foray with digital media, or even with rejection.
The Afghan Interior Ministry has repeatedly shut down Twitter accounts related to the Taliban, and hacker group Anonymous have dedicated its time to stopping insurgent and terrorist groups from gaining a larger presence online. But social media networks have repeatedly come under fire for not doing more to quell the growing presence of groups like the Taliban and ISIS on their respective platforms.
Google removed the app due to Alemarah violating its hate speech rules, which do not allow apps to “advocate against groups of people based on their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”