Between 1996 and 2001 the first Taliban regime was known for public executions of its opponents. This week, the UN claimed to have received reports that human rights violations continue to be committed in the country.
However, the jihadists have found in the networks a channel to bury that image and sell the idea of a peaceful transition of power. “We have forgiven you, I swear to Allah,” activist Qari Saeed Khosty tweeted , referring to Afghans who supported the allied forces.
The return of the ‘ sharia ‘ (Islamic fundamentalist law) to power, they insist, will not mean a regression. Thus, pro-Thaliban activists like Ahmed Fayez walk around the country recording testimonies that sell that version. “Students have no problem continuing their studies normally,” he tweeted. The video shows three children “coming home from school.” There are no girls because the Taliban have forbidden them to go to school .
In addition to Twitter, these Taliban 2.0 have tried to use the instant messaging applications WhatsApp , Signal and Telegram to articulate intimidation campaigns and military coordination, Reyes points out.
But social media not only serves the Taliban to amplify their message, but also as a back door to be able to track and hunt down enemies . “They are a window to the intimacy of people that they did not have before and that poses a new threat, ” Reyes warns.
It has been documented that fundamentalists have used the failures privacy of Facebook to find links to Afghan citizens with US or allied forces. Last week the social network – which Instagram also controls – introduced measures to better hide the profiles of its users .
Despite their hatred of modernity, they are also using recent applications such as Clubhouse , where they control audio rooms to talk to ordinary citizens. Fearing that the Taliban would also use it to detect and prosecute critics, the platform reset thousands of photos and profile descriptions of its users to reinforce their privacy.
Still, social media is a double-edged sword. The Taliban have used them but so could their opponents, as the Arab Spring riots illustrated . Some have already launched campaigns so that, for example, the flag of the country is not modified, but many others have deleted or cleaned their accounts for fear of reprisals
The Taliban have gone from banning the internet to using it as the basis for their political communication . What the jihadist regime does with the digital world is still unknown.
Will they disconnect the country? Will they pressure the platforms to keep monitoring people? “I think they will use the networks to flood the digital sphere with their narratives,” says Reyes. They will be able to follow the example of so many other autocracies