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Should big tech be giving a social media megaphone to the Taliban?

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Facebook, Twitter and Google have come under fire yet again as they must choose whether to censor the Taliban as it retakes Afghanistan

In the debate on censorship and civic duty, big tech is encountering a high-stakes question: whether it should censor the Taliban.

Facebook, Twitter and Google currently have bans in place to prevent the Taliban from creating accounts on their platforms.

But as the Taliban takes over Afghanistan, big tech must choose whether to block the country’s official state social media channels.

Facebook says that it’s likely to take cues from the US government and other global leaders

It still remains unclear whether the US will recognise the Taliban as Afghanistan’s official government.

US President Biden is unlikely to take this route unless the Taliban publicly severs ties from terrorist groups like al-Qaeda.

The Taliban has already promised to protect the rights of minorities and women, but this remains to be seen.

How are Facebook, Google and Twitter handling the situation?

Facebook has said that it will continue to ban content from the Taliban so far as the US continues to classify the group as a dangerous terror organisation. The platform also removes any posts which explicitly praise the group.

Google, which owns Youtube, has banned the Taliban from operating accounts. User content which promotes the Taliban can be flagged for inciting violence or spreading hate speech.

Meanwhile, Twitter doesn’t yet have a specific policy to outline how it will respond to the Taliban other than those generally prohibiting posts that glorify violence.

Was leaving Afghanistan a good decision?

A new Taliban, or just propaganda?

If big tech gives the Taliban the green pass, concerns are that the group will use the platforms to spread propaganda.

The Taliban has already started trying to effectively re-brand itself, pledging to build an ‘inclusive government’ earlier this week.

It said this new government would protect the rights of women and minorities “within the bounds of sharia law”.

During the Taliban’s occupation of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, its interpretation of Sharia laws included stoning or executing women who refused to comply with the regime.

Would banning the Taliban from social media lead to more harm?

Another major concern is that more aggressive censorship against the Taliban could limit global discourse about affairs in Afghanistan.

Faiza Patel from the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty & National Security program raised concerns about entirely censoring the group.

“How does that constrain political discourse on Facebook if you literally cannot talk about the Taliban except to criticise them?”

“I know most of us are probably going to be criticizing the Taliban, but there are obvious objective conversations that you can have about what it means” for Afghanistan.

It remains yet to be seen whether the group will honour its promise of protecting the rights of all Afghans, and what role big tech will have to play moving forward.

Natasha is an Associate Producer at ticker NEWS with a Bachelor of arts from Monash University. She has previously worked at Sky News Australia and Monash University as an Online Content Producer.

Business

Reports of discrimination against pregnant and disabled workers at Amazon

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Amazon is under fire for allegedly discriminating against some of its pregnant workers and workers with disabilities

New York’s Division of Human Rights filed a complaint against the company with Governor Kathy Hochul announcing the move on Wednesday.

Amazon is being accused of failing to provide these workers with the correct pay, forcing them to take unpaid leaves of absence.

There are multiple reports that the company did not follow guidelines with its workers, one pregnant worker was initially given approval to avoid lifting packages over 11 kilograms, but was then made to lift heavy items anyway by a manager.

Amazon did not provide this worker with accommodation after they were injured and instead placed them on indefinite unpaid leave, according to the complaint.

The company is being examined for its failure to accommodate these workers, and allowing managers to override safety recommendations.

Such actions are against breach New York’s Human Rights Law which protects pregnant and disabled workers from discrimination within a workplace.

Amazon is now being urged to “pay civil fines and penalties to the State of New York” and to fix its discriminatory practices.

Amazon’s spokesperson has denied its wrongful conduct saying the company offers “the best available options to accomodate” such employees.

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U.S. warns against hiring North Korean tech workers

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The U.S. is warning North Korean workers are trying to find IT jobs by hiding their identities

The U.S. believes workers are seeking to steal money for their home country.

Many of them are allegedly pretending to be from other parts of Asia, according to three U.S. agencies.

The State Department says thousands of highly skilled IT workers are sent around the world to generate revenue to help with North Korea’s weapons production.

“The DPRK [North Korea] dispatches thousands of highly skilled IT workers around the world to generate revenue that contributes to its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programmes, in violation of US and UN sanctions.”

U.S. State Department

If North Korea is employing workers to fund its missiles program, the move would be in violation of U.N. international sanctions.

“The United States is committed to disrupting illicit DPRK revenue-generating activities, which may facilitate criminal activity, provide direct support to the DPRK’s unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs, and threaten international peace and security,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement.

The country has conducted several missile tests in recent months, including a banned intercontinental ballistic missile.

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Apple delays return to the office as COVID rates spike

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Apple has delayed its staff from returning to HQ on a full-time basis

Apple has delayed its workers from returning to the office full time.

Employees who are in the current working in the office two-day-per-week as part of a trial programme will have the option to once again work fully remote if they feel uncomfortable coming into the office.

According to news outlet The Verge, a memo released by Apple’s COVID-19 response team says that its updates are based on current infection rates and hospitalisations.

Apple is also requesting employees who do decide to return to the office to wear masks when in common areas like meeting rooms, hallways, and elevators.

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