Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid makes his first-ever public appearance at a press conference.
  • WhatsApp shut down a Taliban helpline in Kabul for reporting looting and violence.
  • A spokeswoman told Insider that WhatsApp shut it down to adhere to US sanctions on the Taliban.
  • WhatsApp's parent company, Facebook, bans the Taliban and pro-Taliban content on all its platforms.
  • For more stories visit Business Insider.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp shut down a helpline set up by the Taliban on which it encouraged people to report looting and violence, the Financial Times first reported.

The FT reported that the Taliban started advertising the WhatsApp helpline on Sunday when it captured the capital city of Kabul, taking power in Afghanistan for the first time in 20 years. The Washington Post reported on Sunday that the Taliban used WhatsApp to tell people in Kabul that "we are in charge of security."

Facebook announced Tuesday that it bans the Taliban on all its platforms under its "Dangerous Organizations" policy. It also bans support or praise for the group, it said.

A WhatsApp spokeswoman told Insider the company shut down the helpline to comply with US laws.

"We're obligated to adhere to US sanctions laws. This includes banning accounts that appear to represent themselves as official accounts of the Taliban," she told Insider.

"We're seeking more information from relevant US authorities given the evolving situation in Afghanistan," she told Insider.

WhatsApp told the FT it was actively looking at WhatsApp groups' names, descriptions, and profile pictures to stop the Taliban from using it.

Facebook announced Tuesday it had deployed a team of "Afghanistan experts" to help it identify problems on its platforms related to the Taliban.

Ashley Jackson, a former Red Cross and Oxfam aid worker, told the FT that removing the Taliban helpline was just "grandstanding" and would not help people in Kabul.

"If the Taliban all of a sudden can't use WhatsApp, you're just isolating Afghans, making it harder for them to communicate in an already panicky situation," Jackson told the FT. She added the Taliban had long used similar helplines.

"I know it sounds improbable that these could actually help, but in this really bizarre, fast-moving situation, civilians need all the resources they can get, and this is one of them," she added.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said Facebook was repressing freedom of speech in Afghanistan by banning the Taliban.


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