(Illustration/JTA-Avishek Das-SOPA Images-LightRocket via Getty Images)
(Illustration/JTA-Avishek Das-SOPA Images-LightRocket via Getty Images)

Anti-Defamation League calls on Twitter to remove Taliban accounts

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The Anti-Defamation League is calling on Twitter and other social media platforms to remove Taliban and Taliban-linked accounts from their sites.

The ADL said it was aware of roughly a dozen active Taliban accounts on Twitter, the organization told J. Friday.

The Islamist group, which this month took political control of Afghanistan, also uses Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Telegram to spread its messaging, according to the Washington Post.

The development comes after the Post published a report on Wednesday describing “strikingly sophisticated social media tactics” used by the Taliban to build political power in recent years. Its posts rarely violate social media companies’ terms of service rules, the report said, and are done so skillfully that analysts believe the group is being advised by at least one public relations firm.

While acknowledging it is not currently a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization, the ADL pointed to the Taliban’s “long history of terrorist activity,” naming reprisals in July in the Malistan district that left 27 civilians dead. The ADL referenced a pattern of human rights violations including violence toward women and girls, the assassination of journalists, and the persecution of ethnic and religious minorities.

“There’s no rational reason for the Taliban, a terror group hell-bent on imposing their punitive version of governance on the people of Afghanistan and all those who speak out against their brutality, to be allowed to be on Twitter in an attempt to sanitize their image,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in the statement.

Twitter has suspended accounts linked to Islamist militia groups in the past, including Hezbollah and Hamas, after criticism from U.S. lawmakers. Both groups are on the State Department’s terrorism watch list.

The ADL had not received a response from Twitter as of Friday. The social media company did not respond to a request for comment from J.

The call from the ADL comes as the organization continues to lobby social media companies to do more to stop antisemitism and other forms of hate speech from proliferating on their platforms. The ADL’s “Online Antisemitism Report Card,” released in July, gave mediocre to poor marks to companies like Twitter, YouTube, Reddit and Twitch, finding they “too often fail to respond when hateful content is flagged.”

Gabe Stutman
Gabe Stutman

Gabe Stutman is the news editor of J. Follow him on Twitter @jnewsgabe.