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An Afghan reporter browses the Taliban's website in the newsroom at Maiwand TV station in Kabul in February 2019. Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook and its entities Instagram and WhatsApp reaffirmed their ban on Taliban-related accounts Wednesday, citing the company's "Dangerous Individuals and Organizations" policy, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: How social media companies choose to handle the Taliban's victory in Afghanistan will impact how effectively the group is able to communicate to the people it will now govern.

  • “The decisions that are made by Facebook and Twitter in the next couple of days will have a direct impact on the lives on the many people who find themselves under the Taliban’s rule,” the Atlantic Council's Emerson Brooking told Bloomberg on Monday.

Between the lines: Taliban leaders have sought to dial down their rhetoric since the days of their totalitarian rule in the 1990s, vowing to grant "amnesty" to supporters of the Afghan government and honor women's rights within the "frameworks" of Islamic law.

  • However, human rights violations in territories outside of Kabul that are controlled by the Taliban have left many fearing that the words are hollow.
  • Already, there have been reports of Taliban fighters attacking supporters of the Afghan government and violently cracking down on protests.

The big picture: Facebook's policy means that it will "remove accounts maintained by or on behalf of the Taliban and prohibit praise, support and representation of them," Facebook explained in a statement, per the Times.

  • Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, told Bloomberg News that the platform's ban is tied to U.S. sanctions against the Taliban, which guide its classification of the group as "dangerous."
  • WhatsApp said in a statement that it was "obligated to adhere to U.S. sanctions laws," per the Times.
  • On Tuesday, a Taliban spokesperson challenged the ban as a violation of free speech, according to the Times. Taliban accounts continue to operate on Twitter.

Go deeper

Oct 21, 2021 - World

Biden seeks to reboot U.S. sanctions policy

Sanctions increased under Obama and dramatically under Trump. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The Biden administration is rethinking the U.S. approach to sanctions after four years of Donald Trump imposing and escalating them.

The big picture: Sanctions are among the most powerful tools the U.S. has to influence its adversaries’ behavior without using force. But they frequently fail to bring down regimes or moderate their behavior, and they can increase the suffering of civilians and resentment of the U.S.

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

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