Taliban says Twitter is best platform for freedom of speech

Afghanistan’s Taliban has expressed support for Twitter owner Elon Musk’s permissive approach to censorship on the platform.

Anas Haqqani revealed on Monday the “two important advantages” of Twitter over other social media platforms, particularly in light of the recent launch of Meta-owned rival Threads.

“The first privilege is the freedom of speech. The second privilege is the public nature & credibility of Twitter,” he tweeted.

“Twitter doesn’t have an intolerant policy like Meta. Other platforms cannot replace it,” senior Taliban leader added.

The comments sparked anger among certain users who quickly pointed out that the Taliban denies its citizens the same rights highlighted by the senior Taliban leader’s remarks.

Until their resurgence in August 2021, the Taliban maintained a relatively low-profile presence on social media. Prior to that, numerous Taliban and sympathizer accounts were frequently blocked almost as soon as they were created.

Meta, the owner of Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and now Threads, continues to actively shut down accounts linked to the Taliban.

According to social media observers, accounts bearing names such as “Taliban,” “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” or displaying the movement’s recognizable flag tend to have a short lifespan, as they are frequently deactivated.

Since its acquisition by Musk last year, Twitter has witnessed the swift reversal of bans on tens of thousands of accounts, including that of former US president Donald Trump.

Numerous accounts were suspended for a variety of reasons, including denying US election results, spreading misinformation about Covid, promoting conspiracy theories, and propagating extremist ideologies.

Haqqani, the son of renowned anti-Russian mujahideen fighter Jalaluddin Haqqani, and the brother of interior minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, is among the youngest political leaders within the movement.

Several people were swift to criticise his free speech comments Tuesday, pointing to what they characterised as the “hypocrisy” of the remarks.

Taliban authorities closely monitor the social media activities of ordinary Afghans, leading to the detention and questioning of several individuals who have posted criticisms of the Taliban government.

“How shameful it is for you to talk about freedom of expression,” wrote Homeira Qaderi, an exiled author and activist.

Another exile, journalist and activist Natiq Malikzada, tweeted: “Lol, lauding freedom of speech as a sweet veneer to mask your dark regime, while thousands inside Afghanistan languish in jail for criticizing your oppressive rule.

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