Former President Donald Trump slammed Twitter for allowing the Taliban to use the social media platform to provide updates on their conquest of Afghanistan — as they stand by their decision to ban him from the site.
“It’s disgraceful when you think that you have killers and muggers and dictators and horrible — some horrible dictators and countries, and they’re all on but the president of the United States, who had hundreds of millions of people, by the way, he gets taken off,” Trump told Newsmax Wednesday in a phone interview.
While Trump has remained banned from the platform since the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has been allowed to post updates freely on the platform.
Mujahid’s unverified account, which was used to provide updates on the Taliban’s capture of Afghan cities as they aggressively took control of the country in days, has racked up more than 326,000 followers.
Another Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, has more than 66,000 followers.
Twitter issued a blanket statement to questions about the radical Islamic militant group’s presence on the platform, however, the company did not respond directly to the former president’s criticism.
“The situation in Afghanistan is rapidly evolving,” the statement reads. “We’re also witnessing people in the country using Twitter to seek help and assistance. Twitter’s top priority is keeping people safe, and we remain vigilant.
“We will continue to proactively enforce our rules and review content that may violate Twitter Rules, specifically policies against glorification of violence, platform manipulation and spam.”
In contrast, Twitter announced it was banning Trump on Jan. 8, while he was still president and his account had more than 80 million followers.
The company said at the time that it had to ban Trump “due to the risk of further incitement of violence” in the fallout of the Capitol insurrection, which largely involved his supporters. The riots left five dead.
“Plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021,” Twitter said at the time.
Last month, Trump sued Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for shuttering his accounts, as well as taking similar actions against other conservatives, in what he called the “illegal and shameful censorship of the American people.”
The class-action filings seek unspecified damages for alleged First Amendment violations that Trump said could total “trillions” of dollars.
In the case of the Taliban, Twitter’s official rules appear to clash with conduct that’s historically been associated with the militant group, but the Taliban’s spokespeople appear to be keeping it clean on Twitter so far.
The Taliban has been known to use extreme violence, especially against women, academics and anyone who opposes the group’s fundamentalist interpretation of Islam.
It also has reportedly encouraged the marriage of its soldiers to children, which would violate Twitter’s policy against “child sexual exploitation.”
Other social media companies, including Facebook and TikTok, have been more proactive in limiting the reach of the Taliban.
Facebook, which has also suspended Trump until 2023 at the earliest, has a team monitoring and removing posts, images, videos and other content related to the Taliban.
“The Taliban is sanctioned as a terrorist organization under U.S. law and we have banned them from our services under our Dangerous Organization policies,” a spokesperson told CNBC.
The Taliban has been banned from Facebook for several years, the spokesperson said.
TikTok also told CNBC that it has designated the Taliban a terrorist group and that it will remove content that praises or supports them.
Alphabet-owned YouTube told Vox that it’s also recognized the Taliban as a terrorist group and takes down any content believed to be posted by them.
“[I]f we find an account believed to be owned and operated by the Afghan Taliban, we terminate it. Further, our policies prohibit content that incites violence,” a YouTube spokesperson reportedly said in a statement.