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The Taliban's social media dilemma – CNN

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(CNN Business)Days after taking control of Afghanistan earlier this month, the Taliban used its first press conference to take a swipe at Facebook in response to a question about freedom of speech.

“This question should be asked to those people who are claiming to be promoters of freedom of speech, who do not allow publication of all information,” the group’s spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, said. “I can ask Facebook. … This question should be asked to them.”
The response, implying that Facebook was curbing free speech, hinted at a curious power dynamic: even as the Taliban presses for US forces to leave the country, it remains reliant on American social media companies such as Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR) to get its message out, both within Afghanistan and beyond its borders. On Twitter, for example, multiple Taliban spokesmen, including Mujahid and Suhail Shaheen, have active, unverified accounts, each with more than 300,000 followers.
But many of those platforms, including Facebook and its subsidiary WhatsApp, have said they will crack down on accounts run by or promoting the Taliban. The Taliban’s efforts to push back against or circumvent restrictions on its online activities illustrate how reliant the militant group has become on Western tech companies and the internet broadly — and highlight a potential reversal from the group’s rule decades ago when it banned the internet outright.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, center, speaks at his first news conference at the Government Media Information Center, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, center, speaks at his first news conference at the Government Media Information Center, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021.

“All in all, various social media platforms and messaging applications have had a vital role in the Taliban’s media strategy,” said Weeda Mehran, a lecturer and Afghanistan expert at the University of Exeter who focuses on propaganda by extremist groups.
Those platforms are now serving an important purpose for the Taliban as it retakes control of Afghanistan. Much of the group’s focus thus far has been on cultivating a more sanitized and rehabilitated image than the brutality it was known for the last time it was in power. And it sees platforms such as Facebook and Twitter as key to that effort both within and outside the country, according to Safiya Ghori-Ahmad, a director at policy consulting firm McLarty Associates and a former State Department adviser on Afghanistan.
“The Taliban are really trying to change their narrative and they’re really trying to change the way they’re viewed,” she said. “And so I think you’re seeing that shift now. A lot of it has to do with the huge use of smartphones and the fact that many in Afghanistan now have smartphones. … They’ve noticed that you can use these tech platforms to really spread your message.”

From imposing internet bans to dodging them

The Taliban’s current approach to media and technology is in stark contrast to when it was in charge in the 1990s and early 2000s. Then, it imposed bans on television and the still-nascent internet, explaining the latter move was intended to “control all those things that are wrong, obscene, immoral and against Islam,”
Mehran says the Taliban’s online presence in its current form really began after it was ousted from power in 2001, when the militant group started posting videos and sharing messages online. Since then, it has enthusiastically embraced platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Telegram, none of which existed during its last period in power.
That embrace has coincided with a surge in internet usage across Afghanistan over the past decade. As of 2019, the country had nearly 10 million internet users and around 23 million cellphone users, with 89% of Afghans able to access telecommunication services, according to the latest available figures from the country’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. Facebook Messenger alone has around 3 million users in Afghanistan, according to the ministry.
As a result, instead of imposing internet bans, the Taliban finds itself trying to get around them — at least for now.
Even as the US government and global community deliberate the extent to which they will recognize the militant group as Afghanistan’s official government, some Silicon Valley companies have taken matters into their own hands.
Facebook earlier this month reiterated its longstanding ban on the Taliban across all its platforms, including Instagram and WhatsApp, the latter of which reportedly shut down a Taliban helpline in Kabul and several other Taliban accounts.
“The Taliban is sanctioned as a terrorist organization under US law and we have banned them from our services under our Dangerous Organization policies,” a Facebook spokesperson said. A WhatsApp spokesperson declined to comment specifically on the helpline ban, but said it was “obligated to adhere to US sanctions laws,” which includes “banning accounts that appear to represent themselves as official accounts of the Taliban.”
YouTube said it will continue to “terminate” accounts run by the Taliban. Twitter hasn’t actively banned Taliban accounts but a spokesperson for the company said its “top priority is keeping people safe, and we remain vigilant.”
Taliban fighters stand guard along a street in Kabul on August 16, 2021.

Taliban fighters stand guard along a street in Kabul on August 16, 2021.

“I think at the end of the day, [the Taliban] don’t want the internet to be banned. I don’t think they want YouTube to pull out of the country, I don’t think they want Google to pull out, I don’t think they want Facebook or Twitter to just pack up and leave,” Ghori-Ahmad said.
The relationship between the Taliban and the tech platforms may get even more complicated if the Taliban receives official recognition from the global diplomatic community — a determination that depends to a large extent on what form the Afghan government now takes.
“If the Taliban allows for an inclusive government, and them … being a part of that government, then they have essentially, for lack of a better word, they’ve gained their legitimacy in Afghanistan, because other groups are going to be represented,” Mehran said. If that does happen, it might be harder for the likes of Facebook and YouTube to justify keeping the militant group off the platform.

An uncertain future for online expression

The real test of the Taliban’s approach to the internet may not be what the group says, but what it allows the Afghan people to say.
There has already been a flurry of dissent online, with videos of protests on the streets of Kabul and of conditions in the Afghan capital being shared widely on social media. But if that dissent continues to grow, the Taliban might become more aggressive about curbing internet access for the people it hopes to govern.
“Looking ahead, the Taliban will certainly want to use technology for its own PR and propaganda purposes. But now that it has taken over Afghanistan, it will in all probability want to restrict social media access to the Afghan population in its bid to reduce their access to information,” said Madiha Afzal, a fellow at the Brookings Institution’s foreign policy program. “Platforms like Twitter and WhatsApp will have to figure out how to deal with the Taliban’s propaganda, while still trying to ensure that Afghans retain their access to these platforms if the Taliban attempts to restrict access.”
At the same time, the Taliban insists that online content must comply with Islamic law, which experts say could only add to the challenge platforms face in trying to continue operating in the country. “I think it’s going to be a really tricky and delicate balance for a lot of these tech companies to have to figure out how to navigate that market,” Ghori-Ahmad said.
Taliban fighters stand guard at an entrance gate outside the Interior Ministry in Kabul on August 17, 2021.

Taliban fighters stand guard at an entrance gate outside the Interior Ministry in Kabul on August 17, 2021.

Beyond that, there is already widespread fear that the Taliban could use social media in a more sinister fashion — to find and go after Afghans who worked with the US government or military.
Facebook last week introduced a one-click tool for its Afghan users to lock their profiles and is introducing pop-up alerts on Instagram in Afghanistan detailing how to protect one’s account, the company’s head of security policy Nathaniel Gleicher said in a series of tweets. “We’re working closely with our counterparts in industry, civil society and government to provide whatever support we can to help protect people,” Gleicher said.
Twitter is working with the Internet Archive to address requests from users to remove older tweets and has offered the option of temporarily suspending accounts in case Afghan users aren’t able to access them to delete content. LinkedIn said it has “taken some temporary measures including limiting the visibility of connections, and helping members in the country understand how they can hide their profiles from public view.”
And although the Taliban has sought to project a more moderate image in the days since it took back control, there are no guarantees that will last — particularly once US forces exit the country at the end of this month. After that, it may only be a matter of time before Afghans start to lose the ability to use social media to speak out.
“If that is silenced by the Taliban, and if that is not accessible to them, then that should actually tell a lot to the tech companies about the Taliban,” Mehran said, “And they should factor that in when they want to decide if the Taliban … should be allowed to have a presence on those platforms.”

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Media Release – September 24, 2021 – Guelph Police – guelphpolice.ca

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Home Invasion Investigation

On the morning of September 16th, 2021, three adult males and an adult female forced their way into an apartment in a residential building located near the intersection of Speedvale Avenue East and Stevenson Street North in the City of Guelph.

An adult male resident was struck with a firearm, and other weapons were brandished during this incident. The male resident and an adult female resident were ultimately able to lock themselves in a room and contact the Guelph Police Service for assistance. The three males and female fled on foot.

The male resident was transported to hospital, treated for his injuries and released.     

Police later located the three males inside another apartment in the building and they were subsequently arrested.

Through investigation, police identified the female involved and a warrant was issued.

This was a targeted incident and there is no concern for public safety. 

A 26 year old Guelph male has been charged with:
-Disguise With Intent
-Break, Enter And Commit Indictable Offence

He was held in custody pending a bail hearing on September 24th.

A 27 year old Guelph male has been charged with:
-Disguise With Intent
-Break, Enter And Commit Indictable Offence
-Use Firearm While Committing Offence
-Possession Of A Weapon For A Dangerous Purpose x2
-Breach Probation
-Fail To Comply With Judicial Release Order

He was held in custody pending a bail hearing on September 24th.

A 33 year old Guelph male has been charged with:
-Disguise With Intent
-Break, Enter And Commit Indictable Offence
-Possession Of Weapon For A Dangerous Purpose
-Fail To Comply With Judicial Release Order

He was held in custody pending a bail hearing on September 29th.

On September 23rd, just before 9:46am, police observed the female as a passenger in a motor vehicle driving near the intersection of Wellington Street West and Fife Road. A traffic stop was initiated, and an adult male driver fled the area on foot.

The female was subsequently arrested.

A search incident to arrest revealed 1.18 grams of Fentanyl.

Further investigation revealed that both the vehicle and the vehicle plates were stolen.

A 30 year old Guelph female has been charged with:
-Disguise With Intent
-Break, Enter And Commit Indictable Offence
-Use Firearm While Committing Offence
-Possession Of Weapon For A Dangerous Purpose
-Assault With A Weapon x2
-Breach Probation
-Fail To Comply With OIC Undertaking
-Possession Of A Controlled Substance – Schedule I
-Possession Of Stolen Property Under $5,000 x2

She was held in custody pending a bail hearing on September 24th.

Please note that police found a second adult female in the vehicle during the traffic stop. She was also subsequently arrested.

A 23 year old Guelph female has been charged with:
-Possession Of Stolen Property Under $5,000 x2

She will appear in court on January 14th, 2022.

The male who fled the vehicle on foot was not located.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Constable Jenifer Nadalin at 519-824-1212 ext. 7523, email her at jnadalin@guelphpolice.ca, leave an anonymous tip at CRIME STOPPERS 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit an anonymous tip online at www.csgw.tips.

Road Rage Incident Leads To Weapon Charges

On September 23rd, 2021, just before 6:01pm, a road rage incident occurred between two adult male drivers, which lead to both males exiting their motor vehicles out front of a residence located near the intersection of Starwood Drive and Eastview Road in the City of Guelph. One of the males then pulled foldable knife out of his pocket, opened the blade and held it out in a threatening manner. He eventually left the area in his vehicle.

At 10:32pm, the male who had the knife turned himself into the Guelph Police Service station and was subsequently arrested.

A 29 year old Guelph male has been charged with:
-Assault With A Weapon
-Possession Of A Weapon For A Dangerous Purpose

He will appear in court on January 11th, 2022.

Motor Vehicle Collision Investigation

On September 23rd, 2021, just before 4:52pm, a collision occurred between two motor vehicles near the intersection of Dawson Road and Speedvale Avenue West in the City of Guelph. The collision resulted in minor injuries but significant damage to both vehicles.

Anyone with any dash camera footage in the area or any information at all is asked to contact Constable Lindsay Porterfield at 519-824-1212 ext. 7182, email her at lporterfield@guelphpolice.ca, leave an anonymous tip at CRIME STOPPERS 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit an anonymous tip online at www.csgw.tips.

Stolen ATV

Some time between midnight and 8am on September 23rd, 2021, a shed in the backyard of a residence located near the intersection of Edinburgh Road South and Waterloo Avenue in the City of Guelph was entered. An ATV was then taken, as its key was left in the ignition.

However, the vehicle wasn’t in good working order and was difficult drive, so it was abandoned around the corner from the residence, and was recovered by police at 9am.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Constable Joshua van Breda at 519-824-1212 ext. 7417, email him at jvanbreda@guelphpolice.ca, leave an anonymous tip at CRIME STOPPERS 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit an anonymous tip online at www.csgw.tips.

The Guelph Police Service would like to encourage the public to never leave keys in the ignition of an unattended motor vehicle.

Multiple Motor Vehicle Collisions And Driving Complaints

Over the past 24 hours the Guelph Police Service received reports of 14 motor vehicle collisions and 11 driving complaints occurring throughout the City of Guelph.

The Guelph Police Service would like to encourage the public to slow down and follow the rules of the road in order to help ensure everyone arrives to their destination safely.

Calls for Service in the last 24 hours: 227

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Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week – Summerland Review – Summerland Review

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Good afternoon and happy Friday!

Before you start off your weekend full of sunshine, cooler weather and pumpkin patch adventures, catch up on some of this week’s news headlines from the Okanagan-Shuswap region.

Woman found dead at Highway 33 and Nickel Road in Kelowna

Kelowna RCMP launched an investigation after the body of a woman was found at Highway 33 and Nickel Road in the city.

Police said they don’t have much information surrounding the woman’s death or the cause of it, but the investigation is ongoing.

Fundraisers set up for family of Penticton murder victim

Fundraisers have been set up for a Penticton murder victim’s family.

Taig Savage’s mother, Tracey, previously lost two other children in a house fire. The goal of the fundraisers is to support her as she goes through losing a child in a tragic way for the third time.

One dead in Vernon shooting

One person died and another person was taken into police custody after a morning shooting in Vernon on Monday (Sept. 20).

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP said the victim and the man in custody are known to each other. As he is still in custody, police said there is no further threat to public safety.

Boaters want Shuswap Lake channel dredged but obstacles deter city

Boaters have been asking the City of Salmon Arm to dredge the channel that leads into Shuswap Lake, but the mayor and his staff say that the high costs and government requirements to dredge are keeping them from doing it.

Staff added that dredging is a temporary solution and has a short life span.

And that’s all for this week. Have yourself a good and safe weekend.


@twilamam
twila.amato@blackpress.ca

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Media Day hype, player rankings are clickbait | Pickaxe and Roll – Denver Stiffs

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Ryan Blackburn shares his thoughts on the third day of player interviews for media week that included Aaron Gordon, Will Barton, Jeff Green, Austin Rivers, and Michael Porter Jr. in a stacked session. Gordon was chill, Barton was excited, Green was professional, Rivers was insightful, and Porter showed readiness to take the leap. Then, Ryan discusses the ESPN player rankings that are filtering out and what they had to say about the Nuggets and Nikola Jokić.

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