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Locked profiles, hidden friend lists — Facebook unveils measures to protect Afghan accounts

In a Twitter thread, head of Facebook's security policy Nathaniel Gleicher explained how Afghans can protect their accounts from Taliban scrutiny.

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New Delhi: As fear of reprisal grows under the Taliban rule in Afghanistan, Facebook has come out with a series of measures to help Afghans protect their accounts on the social media platform.

In a series of tweets Thursday, Nathaniel Gleicher, the head of security policy at Facebook, highlighted how people in Afghanistan as well as people who have friends in the country can protect their accounts.

In his 14-tweet thread, Gleicher explained that the first step one should take is to lock down their account, which was a one-click tool provided by Facebook for people in Afghanistan.

He noted that if one’s profile was locked then people who are not their friends cannot download photos or posts from their timeline.

”Over the past week, our teams have been working around the clock to do everything we can to help keep people safe,” he posted.

To ensure people were not targeted based on their profile and friend list, Facebook has also temporarily removed the ability to view and search people’s friends in Afghanistan.

Those not in the country but with friends and family there can also tighten their visibility setting by checking the ”Who can see the Friends section of my Facebook profile?’security setting.

Besides these, Gleicher also gave resources to a few CSO (chief security officer) guides to protect one’s accounts.

He added: ”We’ve stood up a special operations center to respond to new threats as they emerge. We know that no single step is enough by itself in crises like this, but we’re watching closely as the situation develops and will take steps to help protect people in real time (sic).”

Besides Facebook, he also gave a provision for Instagram and said that pop-up alerts were being provided to protect accounts from Afghanistan.

Also read: Why the last living Jew in Afghanistan refuses to flee Taliban rule

Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan

The withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan has set the stage for the resurgence of the Taliban, who were ousted from power in the country in 2001. The insurgent group took over the capital city of Kabul on 15 August.

After the takeover, visuals of armed men with guns have been seen marching the streets in pickup trucks, Hiluxes and Land Cruisers.

According to reports, since the Taliban took control of the country many have shut their social media accounts and deleted their messages to remove their digital footprints, which could make them potential targets.

The Taliban has a brutal history of retribution to people with ties to the former government or US.

Also read: UK MP & Army veteran hits out at NATO’s ‘abandonment’, slams Biden barbs for Afghan forces


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