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Taliban app gets booted from Google Play store

The app's mission was to recruit members by offering statements and videos from the Islamic extremist group, according to Bloomberg.

Google has removed an app created by the Taliban.
Claudia Cruz/CNET

An app created by the Taliban to attract people to its cause has been removed from the Google Play store.

Known as Alemarah, the app was filled with stories and statements written in the Pashto language and contained videos created by the extremist Islamic group, Bloomberg reported on Sunday. The app "is part of our advanced technological efforts to make more global audience," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed told Bloomberg.

Mujahed told Bloomberg the app was taken down to resolve "technical issues," but BBC News reported on Monday that Google removed the app because it violated a policy that prohibits hate speech.

Google said it does not comment on specific apps.

"We can confirm that our policies are designed to provide a great experience for users and developers," a Google spokesman said. "That's why we remove apps from Google Play that violate those policies."

App stores, social networks and other websites often face the challenge of deciding what type of content to remove and what to leave alone. Though careful not to step on the toes of free speech, many sites have policies banning content they consider terrorist propaganda or hate speech.

The Alemarah app was discovered on April 1 by the US-based SITE Intel Group, according to Bloomberg. The group monitors the Internet for jihadist material and singled out Alemarah as an Android app created by the Afghan Taliban to access its Pashto website.

The Taliban has been involved in a jihad, or holy war, in Afghanistan for more than 14 years since it was removed from the country in 2001. Since then, the Taliban has used the Internet and social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to try to spread its message.