A propaganda app developed by the Afghan Taliban was published on the Google Play Store recently. The company’s auto-detection algorithms and manual app verifications failed miserably (something we’ve talked about previously) and the app was available for download for two days.
The app, known as Alemarah, was filled with official Taliban statements and videos created by the group in Pashto language. A Taliban spokesperson said that the app “is part of our advanced technological efforts to attract a more global audience.”
Alemarah was first spotted by a US organization called the Site Intel Group. This organization monitors jihadist elements and similar activity online. The group noticed that the Alemarah app provided access to the Taliban website as well as other content in an app format. After being published on April 1st, the app was taken down after two days, but not without raising questions about Google’s app review process.
Read More: How Google’s app review process failed to recognize some disgusting and obscene apps for Pakistani audience.
When the app was initially pulled down, the Taliban spokesperson said that it was due to “technical issues” which needed to be fixed. However, Google has confirmed that the app has been removed from the Play Store. The app was in clear violation of Google policy against apps which promote hate speech, violence and illegal activities. The developer account associated with the app has also been suspended as part of the ban on the app.
The online publication of this app is yet another high-profile failure from Google. It has always had a light approach towards app reviews and apps often get published immediately without going a thorough review. The company claims they use certain algorithms and have a dedicated team of reviewers for testing these apps.
It is clear that the system still needs improvements and that it relies too much on the user community and developers to flag any inappropriate apps. In comparison, Apple has always had a stricter approach towards apps and most apps go through detailed examination before being published on its App Store.
Google declined to make a specific comment on the app. However a Google spokesperson did say that “We can confirm that our policies are designed to provide a great experience for users and developers. That’s why we remove apps from Google Play that violate those policies.”
Image Source: IR-IA