Why Facebook's continuing Taliban ban should concern us all

Updated 1138 GMT (1938 HKT) August 19, 2021

Jillian C. York is the author of Silicon Values: The Future of Free Speech Under Surveillance Capitalism. The views expressed in this commentary belong solely to the author. Read more from As Equals. For information about how the series is funded and more, check out our FAQs.

(CNN)Facebook confirmed this week that, despite taking control of Afghanistan, it would continue to ban the Taliban from using its platform, citing the United States' inclusion of the group on its Specially Designated Global Terrorists list, as well as the company's own policy against "dangerous organizations."

The Taliban swiftly responded by criticizing Facebook, a company that for many years has claimed to promote free expression, for violating the group's right to free speech.
Although it is imperative to point out that the Taliban does not respect international standards on human rights, including the right to free expression, their cynical jab at the social media giant exposes a fundamental hypocrisy in the dynamic between nation states and international technology companies.
This is not the first time that a social media company has been criticized for its content policies, and from constituencies with diametrically different views. In 2008, YouTube came under fire from then-senator Joseph Lieberman, who wrote to Google CEO Eric Schmidt, imploring him to ensure that YouTube was enforcing its own community standards against terrorism.
Lieberman posited that YouTube's removal of terrorist content from their platform would be a "singularly important contribution to this important nationa