Google Play removes app made by the Taliban

Posted at 12:06 AM, Apr 05, 2016

NEW YORK — Google has removed an app made by the Taliban from its Play store.

The Taliban app was first discovered on Friday by SITE Intel Group, a website devoted to tracking jihadists online. The propaganda product was taken down shortly thereafter.

A Google spokesman declined to comment on the app disappearing from its store, citing a policy that the company doesn’t discuss specific apps. But the spokesman said the company does remove apps from Google Play that violate its policies.

Jihadist groups, including the Taliban, have successfully used the Internet and social media to spread propaganda and recruit fighters. Apps, however, are strictly regulated by Google and Apple. It’s much harder to sneak a jihadist app by the stores’ gatekeepers than post a recruitment tweet on Twitter.

The Taliban app, called “Alemarah,” gave people the ability to keep up with the latest Taliban news. They could watch videos made by the group, and read stories and updates written in Pashto.

The Taliban has other ways to get its message out to supporters. It has a Twitter account, in which an official spokesman sends updates about Taliban activity. And it has an active channel on the encrypted messaging app Telegram.

In recent years, ISIS has proven itself adept at using social media and the Internet, leaving the Taliban to play catch-up.