You know Twitter's getting big when even the technology-shunning Taliban are tweeting. The Guardian points out today that the militant group has a Twitter feed and that on Thursday, for the first time, the Taliban began intermittently tweeting in English instead of Pashtu, noting, for example, that an attack on a U.S. military supply convoy in Afghanistan's Wardak province killed 34 and destroyed 23 "enemy vehicles." The Guardian explains that the Taliban often issues "highly exaggerated reports of strikes against the 'infidel forces' and the 'Karzai puppet regime,'" and normally links back to its multilingual Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan website.
The Taliban has seen its number of followers jump from 224 to nearly 600 since The Guardian published its piece but it follows precisely 12 feeds, which include a couple Afghan news agencies, a U.K.-based Afghan carpet weaving charity, and a U.S. Air Force logistics officer, who hasn't tweeted since November. The Guardian adds that the Taliban's Twitter feed is just one example of how the group's media outreach far surpasses NATO's efforts to engage with Afghans. The Taliban floods journalists with translated text messages and emails, the paper explains, and it often publishes news faster than coalition forces, who blame the delay on the need to transmit accurate information. On the coalition's Twitter feed, there's no mention of an attack in Wardak province.