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Taliban Weaponized Twitter: UofR Survey Report

According to a newsurvey by the University of Regina, Tullivan quickly deployed Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, and almost all Twitter. Recapture Afghanistan.

They issued hundreds of premature victory declarations via Twitter to amplify the message and create a sense of necessity. Their smartphones were as convenient as the rifles they had when they attacked Kabul on August 15.

Lead author Dr. Brian McQueen said the use of social media as a tool of political interest is a very international phenomenon.

"I think we all experienced it here in Canada through many events like pandemics and truck convoys to Ottawa. Social media, small groups of people in the community and funding. How did you actually change the way you take advantage of and the ability to actually influence some larger political groups? ”

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McQuinn on Twitter Said that the moderation of was basically non-existent, so Twitter was used as a gateway to link all other social media.

"Of the 126,000 accounts that had some involvement in the Taliban content, only 49 were moderated or reduced in any way, which means they were basically open and open. It was free to operate. "

He added that most of the moderation efforts by social media companies are concentrated in North America. Facebook's overall user base, "says McQuinn. "That is, most of the groups operating in other parts of the world have little moderation unless it becomes very obvious. These companies have no resources or mean. We have chosen not to have the resources to actually track this on a scale that has some impact. ”

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They report a study of 63 accounts claimed by Tullivan leaders, spokespersons, and authorized members from April 1st to September 16th, 2021. These accounts had more than 2 million followers on Twitter in September 2021. As of May 8, 2022, Taliban content has reached more than 3.3 million accounts.

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The Taliban reportedly tweeted more than 100,000 times between April and mid-September 2021. The content created by the Taliban is nearly 1 million times.

This group was so effective in reaching domestic viewers using Twitter that it was more than four times more engaged than the combined content of 18 mainstream Afghan news organizations. Was created on the platform.

Researchers have confirmed that the average Taliban Twitter account publishes 23 times more content than the average Taliban Facebook page. According to the

report, Twitter seems to benefit from the Taliban's presence on the platform. According to the survey, Twitter posted sponsored ads paid by US and Canadian companies such as Amazon, Disney, McDonalds, and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. These ads appeared on 30% of Taliban brand accounts such as Taliban spokespersons and senior leaders.

The study also reveals that Twitter continues to place ads on accounts that have been flagged for posting "sensitive content."

"Twitter was cashing out these leadership and their followers on Twitter, so no matter what you think about their ability as an authority, Twitter has those accounts. You should make money from, and what are they doing, "McKin said. "If you're wondering if you're looking at this account, is this a network of terrorists? Obviously, this is a group of pretty bad people, but these pages have ads for McDonald's, Amazon, and CIBC. It adds some legitimacy to those pages. "

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The report fails to moderate Twitter I shed light on. "Only 49 of the more than 126,000 accounts on the Taliban's support network show evidence of Twitter moderated action. The majority of Taliban-related accounts (83%) represent Afghanistan's governing authorities. Therefore, it was created long before 2021 when the platform could claim its existence was acceptable. ”

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These accounts also share content, including graphic images and videos depicting corpses and disassemblers
Directly violates Twitter's established policy regarding the posting and distribution of sensitive content. In addition, three-quarters of the Taliban's content was created by just 20 accounts, and a relatively simple moderation effort could have significantly reduced the content generated by the group.

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