Things changed rather quickly for the Taliban's social media team on May 12, when The Guardian noted that the militant group's Twitter feed--@alemarahweb--had begun tweeting in English rather than Pashtu. That was surprising. But what was more surprising for readers was that the Taliban had a Twitter feed in the first place. In the wake of the article, the Taliban's Twitter followers leapt from just above 200 to over 5,500. Recognizing that it had entered the big time, the group whittled the dozen or so feeds it was following down to four, rolled out a flashy new icon with the word "News," and began tweeting almost exclusively in English about the "cowardly" coalition of "invaders" and Pakistani "puppets" it had killed in all manner of attacks. The tweeting was aggressive and relentless. On June 16, for example, the Taliban tweeted four times, on June 17 nine times, on June 18 nine times, and on June 19 four times (the group, inexplicably, typically publishes the same tweet twice, so we're discounting). But since June 19, the feed has gone silent. Where'd the Taliban go?
Perhaps the Taliban was getting tired of all the heckles and shout-outs on Twitter (an example: "seeing a fighter lying on camera about killing US forces in Chimtal reminded me of other Taliban lies tweeted by @alemarahweb"). Perhaps no newsworthy events have occurred, or the manager of the feed is on hiatus. Or maybe, just maybe, the group is spurning Twitter for Facebook. On June 18, just around the time that Twitter went black, the Taliban created a Facebook page, and it's been updating it regularly ever since in Pashtu (the Taliban hasn't entirely abandoned the English language--it issued a rare statement in English today denouncing Obama's Afghanistan speech). Is the Taliban changing its social media strategy? We've reached out for comment, and we'll let you know if the Taliban gets back to us.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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