Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn said this week they had taken steps to secure the accounts of Afghan citizens to protect them from being targeted amid the Taliban’s swift takeover of the country.
Facebook has temporarily removed the ability for people to view or search friend lists from accounts in Afghanistan, security policy chief Nathaniel Gleicher tweeted on Thursday.
Gleicher also said the company has launched a “one-click tool” for users in Afghanistan to lock their accounts so that people who aren’t their Facebook friends can’t see their posts in the timeline or share their profile photos.
Human rights groups expressed concerns that the Taliban could use online platforms to track Afghans’ digital stories or social connections. Amnesty International said this week that thousands of Afghans, including academics, journalists and human rights defenders, were at serious risk of Taliban reprisals.
The former captain of the Afghan women’s soccer team also urged players to exclude social media and erase their public identities.
Twitter said it is in contact with civil society partners to provide support to groups across the country and that it is working with the Internet Archive to expedite direct requests to remove archived tweets.
He said that if individuals were unable to access accounts containing information that could put them at risk, such as direct messages or followers, the company could temporarily suspend accounts until users regain access and can delete their content.
Twitter also said it is proactively monitoring accounts affiliated with government organizations and may temporarily suspend accounts pending additional information to confirm their identity. A LinkedIn spokesman said Microsoft’s professional networking site had temporarily hidden its users’ connections in Afghanistan so that other users couldn’t see them.