I don’t know what to think about the fact the Taliban now has a Twitter account. Is this good news or bad? Is it a good idea for them to use social media to promote their cause or a bad idea? Should we care? Does it make Twitter a dirty tool now that the Taliban are using it?
It seems only logical the Taliban would create and use a Twitter account, or any social media network, to promote their beliefs and their cause. Social media has been a powerful weapon of change in the Middle East. The past year has seen regimes toppled due to the effects of social media, why wouldn’t the Taliban take notice?
I don’t think it changes the power of social media for the general public, however. just because the Taliban has a Twitter account and amasses Followers does not mean then are winning supporters in the broadest sense of the word. People want to know what the group is up to, what sort of crazy, dangerous, inhumane things they have planned for the world next. If Twitter is the tool they want to use to get the word out, to warn the world they are still relevant, so be it.
Just makes it easier for the rest of us to know what they’re up to. That’s all.
As of late Friday morning, 454 people were following the account — and that number was quickly rising.
The account follows 12 other Twitter feeds, including @AfghanHeroesUK, which represents a charity for British troops, @AfghanAction, an organization which teachers carpet weaving in Afghanistan, and @Afghantim, a member of the U.S. Air Force who hasn’t tweeted since November.
Twitter may prove to be a useful broadcasting platform for the Islamist group.
“It appears they want to improve their outreach,” Bartnett Rubin, Senior Fellow at NYU’s Center for International Cooperation, told The News. “Mobile phones are very widespread in Afghanstan, but computers are not. Hence this makes a lot of sense.”
According to the CIA, in 2009 there were approximately 12 million cellular phone subscribers in Afghanistan. The World Bank reports that in 2009, nearly 30 million people lived in the central Asian country.
Though the Taliban once held an unfavorable view of electronic communications, it seems the organization’s perspective has radically shifted.
“When they were in power social media did not exist. There was not even functioning telephone service in Afghanistan,” Rubin said. “Now the Taliban have a website and have used email, video, etc., to communicate for years. This is just one more step. They long ago abandoned their negative attitude toward communications technology and they use it very well.”
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