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Winning hearts and minds: Taliban says their app will be back in the Play Store 'soon'

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Google pulls Taliban app out of the Play Store
The Taliban resurgence back in some Afghanistan provinces hasn't gone unnoticed by the State Department, the Pentagon, the Russians and even ISIS, not to mention the local authorities that are trying to fight their grand return. Thus, the Taliban are facing an uphill battle, and, as every self-respecting insurgency, are in need of some public relations effort to spread their message.

Winning hearts and minds these days means winning the digital message, or, as the Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed puts it, "part of our advanced technological efforts to make more global audience," that is why the Taliban came up with their own Android app. Called Alemarah (Al Emarah), and written in Pashto language, the app aimed to disseminate the fundamentalist group's point of view, which, if the Taliban's Twitter account is any indication, consists of often made-up news, tailored statements, video footage and pseudo-analysis.

So far so good, but here comes the fly in the honey. As soon as Google found out that the Taliban have concocted a brand new app and managed to upload it to the Play Store without much trouble on Friday, the gang from Mountain View apparently pulled the plug without much ado. The only reply from Google's spokespeople were in the realm of "While we don’t comment on specific apps, we can confirm that we remove apps from Google Play that violate our policies." 

Well, these policies do include hate speech and terrorists content that propagates their "achievements," so it's not hard to fathom why Google brought Alemarah down. There is still hope for the Taliban's PR department, though, as, according to the group's spokesman Mujahed, the app has disappeared due to "technical difficulties," and should be back soon. We'll see about that - for a group that sniffs at cell phones and other decadent Western influence, the Taliban sure seem like a tech-savvy bunch.

source: Bloomberg & Quartz

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