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  • Lawrence Ng

Facebook, LinkedIn & Other Platforms Introduce Account Security Tools for Afghans

Updated: Aug 26, 2021

Facebook's one-click tool that lets Afghans instantly lock down their accounts has recently been launched, said the company's Head of Security Policy Nathaniel Gleicher. As the Taliban recently seized control of Afghanistan, the group circumvented platform bans by Youtube and Facebook to promote its messages on social media. Afghans fearing the Taliban have deleted their social media accounts for safety reasons.

Applying feedback from journalists, activists and civil society groups, Facebook rolled out a new feature that can help Afghan users protect their accounts. When this measure is implemented, non-friends cannot download or share Afghan users' profile photos, nor can they see timeline posts.

Credit: Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Aside from that, the social network will also temporarily prevent users from accessing and searching the "Friends" lists of Afghan Facebook users. Gleicher stated that this will prevent Afghans from being targeted.

"Over the past week, our teams have been working around the clock to do everything we can to help keep people safe. While we have to be careful to avoid tipping off bad actors, here are a few security measures we've rolled out for people in (the) country to protect their accounts," tweeted Gleicher.

Relatives and friends of Afghans are also recommended to tighten their accounts' security in order to keep their loved ones from harm. They can do so by following the instructions found here.

Facebook-owned platform Instagram will similarly roll out security measures for Afghans, which will provide users with pop-up alerts detailing the process of account protection.

Other social media platforms are also taking action, with Twitter observing accounts connected to government organisations. The platform could also temporarily suspend accounts that lack the supplementary information needed to confirm their legitimacy. The micro-blogging platform is communicating with the Internet Archive to quickly fulfil requests to remove archived tweets as well.

Credit: Jaap Arriens, NurPhoto via Getty Images

Twitter also stated that it could suspend accounts holding information (e.g. direct messages, list of followers) that could put its owners at risk if these users have lost access to their accounts. The suspension will be lifted after users regain the ability to log in to their accounts and delete the potentially harmful content.

On the other hand, social audio app Clubhouse reset tens of thousands of Afghan users' display pictures and bios. It additionally made Afghan accounts harder to find in search. A spokesperson for the company confirmed that this will not affect Afghan users' followers and all profile changes can be reverted by choice. Owners of Afghan accounts may similarly use pseudonyms to protect their own safety.

As for LinkedIn, a company spokesperson said that the website temporarily hid the connections of Afghan users for safety purposes.


Written by Sophia Lopez

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