Facebook hides friend lists to protect users in Afghanistan

Facebook says it has added several security features to help Afghans control their accounts as fears of Taliban retaliation increase. I...

Facebook says it has added several security features to help Afghans control their accounts as fears of Taliban retaliation increase.

In a series of tweets Thursday evening, Facebook’s security chief said the company had temporarily disabled the ability to view and search the friend lists of Facebook accounts in Afghanistan. He also said that the platform, which sees a proliferation of new Taliban accounts despite a ban from the group, had provided a tool to help Afghans quickly lock their accounts if they feared being targeted.

The unprecedented metrics target one of Facebook’s most fundamental features: the Friends List. They represent a frank recognition on the part of the company, which has long touted its ability to connect the world, of the risks of having personal information available on social networks.

Since the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan this week, their promises of amnesty and reconciliation have been undermined by reports that their troops are engaging in reprisals and forced repression of demonstrations.

Since the militants took control of cities, including the capital Kabul, many Afghans have closed their social media accounts and deleted messages for fear their digital fingerprints will make them the target of former insurgents. In the past, the Taliban have inflicted brutal retaliation against Afghans with ties to the country’s former government or to Western countries such as the United States.

The Taliban have nonetheless become savvy users of social media. During the summer offensive that catapulted them to power, they used social media platforms to spread their messages.

Facebook’s security chief Nathaniel Gleicher also urged people with friends in Afghanistan to consider tightening their own privacy settings.

The social network’s strict bans on the Taliban have pushed many of its most influential voices and officials to Twitter. Still, the platform struggled to exclude all accounts. Dozens of new have appeared on the site in recent days, asking the company the difficult question of how to regulate a group that now controls Afghanistan.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Facebook hides friend lists to protect users in Afghanistan
Facebook hides friend lists to protect users in Afghanistan
Newsrust - US Top News
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