App spreading Taliban propaganda was live for two days before Google noticed its error and removed it
Google has apologised after a mobile app that spread news and propaganda supporting the Taliban was allowed onto the Google Play marketplace.
The ‘Pashto Afghan News – Alemara’ app reportedly featured videos and news announcements from the group’s main website. It was initially accepted on to Play Store and made available to be downloaded last Friday, before Google spotted the error two days later.
The company said that the app violated its rules on hate speech, with a Google spokesperson telling The Telegraph that “we 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.
“While we don’t comment on specific apps, 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.
A spokesman from the Taliban told Bloomberg the app was “part of our advanced technological efforts to make a more global audience”.
Google Play currently has around two million apps available to download, with the company having to review thousands more each week.
Mobile apps and devices have become an increasingly popular way for organisations such as the Taliban to spread their messages quickly across a wide audience.
Although this app was taken down quickly, it is thought that the group and many like it are also operating on third-party app stores, which lack the proper governance and security offered by the likes of Google Play Store.
Social media sites have also proved popular for terrorist groups in recent times, particularly ISIS, which has been active on Twitter and Facebook for some time. Its growing influence led to the US government meeting with a number of the world’s top technology companies back in January to discuss how to combat the group’s popularity on these sites.
In a slightly less official way, hacktivist group Anonymous also ‘declared war’ on Isis in December, launching a ‘day of trolling’ against the organisation that was apparently able to take down many websites affiliated with it.
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