Taliban's plans to curtail access to Facebook in Afghanistan alarm critics

Media freedom advocates are expressing alarm over the Taliban's proposal to restrict or completely ban access to Facebook in Afghanistan and have urged the fundamentalist rulers to reconsider the move.
Afghanistan alarm critics:- Media freedom advocates are expressing alarm over the Taliban's proposal to restrict or completely ban access to Facebook in Afghanistan and have urged the fundamentalist rulers to reconsider the move. [VOA]
Afghanistan alarm critics:- Media freedom advocates are expressing alarm over the Taliban's proposal to restrict or completely ban access to Facebook in Afghanistan and have urged the fundamentalist rulers to reconsider the move. [VOA]

Afghanistan alarm critics:- Media freedom advocates are expressing alarm over the Taliban's proposal to restrict or completely ban access to Facebook in Afghanistan and have urged the fundamentalist rulers to reconsider the move.

Najibullah Haqqani, minister of telecommunications and Information, announced last week on a local TV news channel that he has finalized a proposal to limit access to the social media platform, pending approval by the Taliban.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, or CPJ, has urged the Taliban not to move ahead on a measure that it said would “further impede the free flow of information in Afghanistan.”

In a statement issued on Monday, the U.S.-based advocate of media freedom highlighted Facebook's widespread use by Afghan news outlets to disseminate news and information in the country.

“Social media platforms, including Facebook, have helped to fill a void left by the decline of the Afghan media industry since the Taliban’s August 2021 takeover and the ensuing crackdown on press freedom,” said Beh Lih Yi, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator.

“The proposed ban highlights the worsening censorship by the Taliban,” she added.

The CPJ statement quoted Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid as telling the U.S.-based watchdog that “Facebook will not be banned, but restrictions will be imposed on it.”

Taliban officials themselves heavily rely on social media platforms, including Facebook and X, to announce policy statements and propagate the return of so-called economic, security and political stability to Afghanistan.

Since regaining control of the war-ravaged country nearly three years ago, the Taliban have detained journalists, shut down Afghan news websites and restricted access to foreign media outlets, including VOA. Activists say the restrictions have severely curtailed press freedom in Afghanistan.

In February, the Taliban governor of the southern province of Kandahar ordered his staff and security forces not to allow photographs or videos during their formal or informal meetings.

Later that month, the Taliban minister for the promotion of virtue and the prevention of vice warned media representatives at a meeting in the capital, Kabul, of the possibility of a ban on female journalists and guests if they did not comply with a strict dress code, requiring that only their eyes be visible during broadcasts. VOA/SP

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