Taliban: Doyle argues group should have social media access
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Andrew Doyle dismissed calls to ban the Taliban off Twitter after he feared social media platforms would use it as a precedent and be corrupted by the power to silence voices on their websites. He said it was in everyone’s “best interest” to keep the group on Twitter so they could engage and see what they are doing to hold them accountable for their actions. Mr Doyle added he did not want to give social media platforms more power to determine who could speak on their websites as he harked back to former President Donald Trump’s suspension.
Some UK and US pundits have attacked Twitter for allowing Taliban representatives on the platform but banning people like Donald Trump who Twitter accuse of inciting violence.
Biotech CEO and author Vivek Ramaswamy attacked Twitter’s decision, stating some of the world’s most powerful groups are essentially “turning their back” on America.
Mr Trump was “permanently suspended” from Twitter and other social media platforms over fears he was inciting violence during the Capitol Hill riots earlier this year.
But Mr Doyle took a more nuanced stance on the situation, believing it solved nothing keeping the Taliban off social media.
He explained: “Yeah, this is a monstrous group and I have no hesitation in saying that but it is in our interests to know what they are thinking.
“If they are on social media and if they are staying within the law on social media, as in not inciting violence and that kind of thing, then it is in our interest to see it.
“That is not in any way endorse anything that they say it’s actually the reverse, by having them present on the internet, on social media, it allows people to hold them to account.
“It allows people to attack what they’re doing, as in criticise what they are doing, expose what they are doing, I think a lot of people don’t know the full extent of what’s going on.
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“People like this do hoists themselves with their own petard if you let bad people speak and express their terrible ideas, they don’t end up being sustained by the light of day because people can see them for what they are.
“So in that respect, I don’t think we need to be protected from hearing from what they have to say quite the reverse I think it’s important that we do hear what they have to say.”
The Taliban has spoken on several major UK news platforms already, such as the BBC and Sky News, and have stated their intentions are not to carry out revenge and that women rights will be protected.
Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen, who is allowed an account on Twitter, dismissed claims of brutality on the Afghanistan ground stating they were “fake” and “rumours” dreamt up by opponents.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said she did not believe the group’s promises as the UK begins to resettle thousands of displaced Afghans over the next few years.
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Mr Doyle was asked then why do the Taliban need to be on Twitter if they already have access to major platforms around the world.
He explained: “No they don’t [need Twitter] so then what’s the point in banning them.
“I worry about this kind of thing because what this also does is that it sets a precedent whereby we are putting pressure on social media platforms to ban certain voices.
“And the last thing you want is to give these social media tech giants more power when it comes to determining what should be included in the public square and what shouldn’t be included in the public square.
“So I’m very nervous about that.”
Mr Doyle concluded and said the Twitter terms of service is already being applied unequally so did not want to allow Twitter more scope to exercise their control.
The Taliban are not allowed on Facebook following a decision several years ago from the tech giant.
Facebook agrees with the US that the Taliban are a terror group and so are not allowed on the platform.
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