Taliban Smartphone App Removed From Google Play

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A Taliban technology that allowed for the spread of online hate and extremism has been removed by Google.

An app developed for Android smartphones which allowed the Taliban to connect with a wider digital audience was removed from Google Play store after it was branded as ‘hate speech.’

The app, named Alemarah, was part of the Taliban’s advanced technological efforts to compete with the Islamic State/ISIS/ISIL who have recently made inroads into Afghanistan and Taliban territory and are better positioned in the cyber world.

The Mirror reports:

The app, named Alemarah, gave Android smartphone users access to videos and official statements translated into Pashto from the hard-line Afghan group.

But following its launch on Google’s Play Store on April 1, it has now been removed after it was reported to the tech giant by US-based SITE Intel Group on Friday.

The extremist group’s spokesman told Bloomberg the app had been removed because of “technical issues” and would reappear.

However, it is understood Google removed the app because it violated the firm’s policy on hate speech.

According to the Taliban spokesman the app is part of “advanced technologies efforts to make a more global audience”.

Though Google declined to comment on any specific apps, the company said in a statement: “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 app was first reported by the US-based Site Intel Group, an organisation that monitors jihadist activity.

Extremist groups are increasingly turning to the digital world in order to reach more followers.

Followers of Islamic State are known to actively use Twitter to recruit fighters to the group and promote the organisation, activity that has led hacktivist group Anonymous to “declare war” on the group, vowing to disrupt social media accounts and knock them offline.

TalibanTore Hamming, a militant Islamism researcher at the European University Institute, said the new app could be part of a plan to contend with ISIS on digital platforms.

He said: ““That the app was launched in Pashto indicates that the local Pashtun population is the main audience and it could thus be perceived as an attempt to bolster its support in eastern Afghanistan where IS – especially in Nangarhar and Paktika – is pushing for control.”

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