Apr 4th, 2016

What better way to recruit people to your cause than through social media and apps? That’s what the Taliban figured out, going as far as publishing an app on Google Play on April 1st (we wouldn’t blame you for thinking it was an April Fools joke, either). The extremist Islamist group — whose history contains of involvement with terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and potential massacres of many Afghan natives — was alive and well just as any developer on Google Play currently is.

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That is, until Saturday. Google removed the app from Google Play without a word. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed tried to play the app’s disappearance off as a necessity to address technical issues, but BBC has learned that the app was removed by Google, citing their developer policy that rejects apps which promote hate speech:

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.

Google opted not to comment on the app’s removal. The Taliban spokesman said the app’s purpose was to attract a more global audience to their cause, which is to regain control over Afganistan after they’d lost it in 2001 following the September 11th terrorist attacks in the US. It’s not yet known what, exactly, was mentioned in the app, which used the Pashta language.

Taliban’s use of modern technology to spread propaganda is not unlike what more recent extremist groups are doing now with Twitter and other social platforms. The internet is a great way to get the word out, but when that word violates developer policies and terms of use agreements, and potentially targets people with hate and threats, well, they have to come under the hammer just like everything else. We don’t expect many people to feel sorry for them when it happens, either.

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