A Taliban-produced propaganda app on the Google Play Store, “Pashto Afghan News – alemarah”, has been removed from the store just a couple of days after its launch.
The app, which was only for Android phones and tablets, was removed because it violated Google’s policy on hate speech, after being discovered by Site Intel Group, an American organisation which looks out for terrorist activities.
The app’s content was in Pashto (spoken in Afghanistan and some of Pakistan), and included official videos and political statements from the terrorist organisation.
Alemarah only launched on 1 April, and the Taliban claimed that “technical issues” were the reason the app went offline. However, a spokesperson from Google did say: “While we don’t comment on specific apps, our policies are designed to provide a great experience for users and developers. That’s why we remove apps from Google Play that violate those policies.”
The Taliban and other terrorist organisations have increasingly turned to social media in recent times, to try and spread their message across the world more effectively. However, such accounts and websites are regularly found and taken offline by the authorities.
The Google Play Store has more than 2 million Android apps, with thousands of new apps submitted daily. This can create a hugely demanding job in terms of moderating the service, meaning that unfortunately, some inappropriate apps do make it through, albeit not always for long.