How did the Taliban use social media to their benefit?

The report entitled Powered by Twitter? Taliban takeover of Afghanistan analyzed how the Taliban weaponized social media, especially Twitter.

In a statement, University of Regina assistant professor and lead author of the report, Brian McQuinn, said the Taliban used Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to support their cause.

Twitter, a Powerful Tool for the Taliban

Taliban media influence in Afghanistan was measured by the level of involvement of Taliban content between 1er April 16 and September 2021

They used Twitter more than any other social media platform, posting 23 times more content on Twitter than on Facebook.reveals Mr. McQuinn, who is also co-director of the Center for Artificial Intelligence, Conflict and Data (CAIDAC).

Taliban posts on Twitter received more than eight million replies, seven million mentions, report says I likealmost a million retweet400,000 responses and 94,000 citations.

The researchers also note that retweets and mentions I like soared in mid-August when Kabul fell.

The Taliban has been so effective in using Twitter to reach domestic audiences that it has generated more than four times more engagement on the platform than content from 18 major Afghan news organizations combined, according to the report.

Taliban Strategies

The study of the four universities identified six distinct strategies used by the Taliban to manipulate international and domestic audiences. These strategies were applied until the withdrawal of American troops and the capture of Kabul.

The Taliban promoted military victories while undermining the Afghan government’s legitimacy. They also identified and amplified mistakes and deaths caused by American and Afghan forces.

Also according to the report, the Taliban highlighted their recruitment successes and defections from the Afghan army. They profiled their relationships with foreign governments and the international community.

The moderation policy of the questioned platforms

The researchers were interested in the policy implemented by these platforms to curb messages of disinformation and violence.

While each of these platforms claims to act against Taliban accounts, the effectiveness or scope of their efforts is questionable.points out Brian McQuinn.

The report concludes that social media platforms need to improve their account moderation strategies, combining country-specific tools and methods.

This requires a detailed understanding of armed groups and their strategies for manipulating information online, the researchers believe.

Five specific recommendations were made for social media companies.

The report suggests that these companies enforce existing content moderation policies and increase coordination between internal teams.

The researchers are in favor of building and maintaining a continuous learning system. Its mission would be to monitor and adapt faster than those who use social media for disinformation.

They are also calling for better access to company data to conduct more research in this area.

Research work praised by the University of Regina

University of Regina vice president of research Kathleen McNutt welcomes the University of Regina’s collaboration on this study.

Social media is one of the main distributors of false information in areas of armed conflict and in all kinds of political and social contexts. »

a quote from Kathleen McNutt, Vice President of Research at the University of Regina

I am extremely proud that the University’s researchers are at the forefront of this incredibly important work and developing solutions to manage this problem now and in the future.She screams.

As we have seen, people all over the world, including Canada, are susceptible to manipulation and online advertising..

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