Facebook launched a safety feature to protect Afghan users amid fears that the Taliban is tracking opposition on social media

Facebook launched a safety feature to protect Afghan users amid fears that the Taliban is tracking opposition on social media
Women with their children try to get inside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan August 16, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer
  • Afghan social media users, particularly women, fear the Taliban will target their online histories.
  • Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin announced steps they're taking to help secure Afghan accounts.
  • One influencer deleted her accounts, telling followers it was "no longer safe," AFP News reported.

Social media users and human rights groups have expressed fear that the Taliban could be tracking opponents' online histories and connections.

On Thursday, Facebook launched a new safety feature that secures Afghan users' accounts while temporarily removing the ability to search and view "Friends" lists within the country.

"We've launched a one-click tool for people in Afghanistan to quickly lock down their account. When their profile is locked, people who aren't their friends can't download or share their profile photo or see posts on their timeline," Facebook's head of security Nathaniel Gleicher tweeted.

On Instagram, the platform is notifying users in Afghanistan with pop-up alerts that provide specific instructions on how to secure their accounts and profile information.

Microsoft-owned Linkedin said the connections of users in Afghanistan have been temporarily hidden, according to the BBC. Twitter announced that it is accelerating direct requests to remove archived tweets in partnership with the Internet Archive, Reuters reported.


Afghan social media influencer Sadiqa Madadga recently deleted her social media accounts, telling her hundreds of thousands of followers on TikTok and Instagram that it was "no longer safe," AFP News reported on Friday.

The 22-year-old singer's concern for her safety is mirrored by women and religious minorities across Afghanistan who suffered under the Taliban's ultra-conservative Islamic law from the years 1996 to 2001.

The Taliban prevented girls from attending school, banned entertainment, and enforced inhumane punishments such as stoning to death. Now, Afghan social media users fear the progress made since 2001 will be held against them, according to AFP News.

"I don't like to express my pain online but I'm sick of this," Madadga posted before swiftly deleting the accounts that until recently, had defined her career success. "My heart is in pieces when I look at the soil, my homeland which is being destroyed slowly before my eyes."