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Taliban launches Android app, Google pulls it two days later

Although it managed to stay in the Google Play Store for two days, the Taliban's propaganda app has been yanked for hate speech.

Published onApril 4, 2016

Vigil (left) with members of his team and members of the Northern Alliance west of Konduz Afghanistan in late 2001.
Source: Wikipedia

App developers come from all walks of life. Whether you’re a starving college kid, a tech enthusiast with years of experience in the field, or a member of a violent international terror group, there’s a place for your creation in the Google Play Store. Okay, well maybe not that last one. Google has pulled the Taliban’s propaganda app after two days, citing hate speech concerns.

The app, called Pashto Afghan News – Alemara, went live on Friday with little fanfare. However, an organization called Intel Group, which is a US initiative to keep track of social network activity described as jihadist, noticed the app and let the search giant know. Google investigated and discovered that the app contained content taken directly from the Taliban’s primary website. Amnesty International reports that the terrorist group is guilty of mass murder, house to house searches in some regions, and gang rapes. Google says the reason they took the app down was that they “don’t allow apps that advocate against groups of people based on their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”

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Some suspect that the Taliban was attempting to follow the lead of ISIS, which has been using social media to incredible effect to recruit suicide bombers and insurgents from Europe and abroad. A spokesperson from the terrorist group spoke with Bloomberg, reporting that the app “is part of our advanced technological efforts to make more global audience [sic].”

What do you think of a Taliban app slipping through the safeguards to make it onto the Google Play Store? Should a more robust app review process be put into place to prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future? Bear in mind that Google already has to screen over 1000 apps per day arriving on the Play Store. Let us know your take on the situation in the comments below!

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