A hot potato: Elon Musk might be sweating over the Twitter-like Threads becoming the fastest-growing app of all time, but at least he can count on the support of Anas Haqqani, a senior Taliban leader, who has praised Twitter's commitment to free speech and blasted Meta's "intolerant policy."
Haqqani tweeted a post about Twitter having two important advantages over other social media platforms. The first privilege he applauds is its freedom of speech, while the second is the public nature and credibility of Twitter. "Twitter doesn't have an intolerant policy like Meta. Other platforms cannot replace it," he wrote.
Twitter has two important advantages over other social media platforms.– Anas Haqqani(Ø§ÙÂØ³ ØÙÂØ§ÙÂÙÂ) (@AnasHaqqani313) July 10, 2023
The first privilege is the freedom of speech. The second privilege is the public nature & credibility of Twitter. Twitter doesn't have an intolerant policy like Meta. Other platforms cannot replace it. pic.twitter.com/oYQTI3hgfI
Before he took over Twitter, Musk talked at length about turning the platform into a bastion of free speech. He later reinstated suspended accounts following the results of a poll, including Donald Trump's. It seems the company's laxer content moderation policy appeals to Haqqani.
As per Insider, Haqqani's father, Jalaluddin Haqqani, founded the Haqqani Network, which in 2021 was designated a foreign terrorist organization by the US government, a decade after the Taliban was given the same designation. According to the National Counterterrorism Center, it was considered the "most lethal and sophisticated insurgent group" in Afghanistan during the US-led occupation.
It seems that Twitter's freedom of speech focus is an attractive trait for the Taliban, which isn't an endorsement Musk will want at a time when rival Threads has attracted over 100 million users in five days. Meta has clamped down on the Taliban's use of Facebook and WhatsApp, so the group is unlikely to be opening an official Threads account.
You are free to be your true self here– Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 11, 2023
In early May of 2021, as US and Nato forces started their final withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Taliban launched a comprehensive social media campaign, reports the BBC. It included tweets and hashtags relating to the group's victories and attempts to garner support, a stark contrast to their previous opposition to modern western technology.
"The Taliban wanted to counter their propaganda and that's why we too focused ourselves on Twitter," a Taliban member told the British broadcaster. "Social media is a powerful tool to change public perception."
Some members were even given blue verification ticks before Musk made this a paid feature. Following Musk's change, at least two Taliban officials and four prominent supporters in Afghanistan are currently paying for the checkmarks.
The Taliban's presence on Twitter has long been controversial. Following his suspension from the platform in the wake the US Capitol riots, former President Donald Trump said: "We live in a world where the Taliban has a huge presence on Twitter, yet your favorite American President has been silenced. This is unacceptable."