Google bans Afghan Taliban app for hate speech

(Last Updated On: April 04, 2016 2:17 pm)

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Google has removed an app developed by the Taliban from the Google Play Store for Android smartphones and tablets, designed to spread the militant group’s propaganda.

The app, “Pashto Afghan News – Alemarah”, displayed news and videos developed by the Taliban. It was discovered on Friday and taken down shortly after.

It violated Google’s rules on hate speech, which say: “We don’t allow apps that advocate against groups of people based on their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender identity”.

A spokesman for the insurgent group told Bloomberg it “is part of our advanced technological efforts to make more global audience”, but said it had been removed due to “technical issues”. 

The app displayed messages in Pashto – a language used in Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan – while Alemarah is the name of a propaganda network used by the Taliban.

“While we don’t comment on specific apps, our policies are designed to provide a great experience for users and developers. That’s why we remove apps from Google Play that violate those policies,” a Google spokesman said.

The Taliban has made repeated efforts to spread its message over the internet, although websites and social media accounts are routinely taken offline.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) has proven adept at spreading its message online, included launching its own app, although it has been thwarted in several attempts to distribute propaganda. 

Twitter and encrypted messaging app Telegram have removed ISIL accounts for violating their terms and conditions, while hacking group Anonymous has declared “total war” on the group.

The Taliban has recently rejected the opportunity for fresh peace talks between representatives of Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the US.

There are more than 2 million Android apps on Google’s Play Store, according to figures from AppBrain, with half a million added in the last year, and thousands of new ones are submitted every day, creating a challenge in moderating the service.

Written by: Telegraph

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