Google removed Almerah, a propaganda app by the extremist Taliban group, from its Play Store on Sunday. This app, detected first by US-based Site Intel Group, was another effort by the extremist group to increase its global visibility by harnessing technology, with a website in 5 languages, including English, already present.
It comes as no surprise since the group already has a robust social media presence with multiple social media accounts spreading propaganda and false news against the Afghan government on a daily basis. An official spokesperson from the Taliban has also confirmed in a statement to Bloomberg that the app was created by them. The Taliban's app was also meant to take on tech-savvy ISIS, to gain the attention of the local Pashto audience, as the entire content on the app was in Pashto.
In its statement, Google has declined to comment on the real reason behind removing the app, and has only confirmed a violation of its policies (which state that any app promoting hate, violence and illegal activities shall be taken down). In 2015, Google had changed its app review process requiring apps to be verified and approved individually by actual human reviewers, without bringing the app approval time to more than a few hours on an average.
That brings to mind the question regarding what action, if any, will be taken against the reviewer who had let the app be present on the Play Store in the first place. Although this isnt really the first time that an app is being removed for policy violations. Back in 2014, Google had to remove an app simulating the Gaza bombings.
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