Posts wrongly claim video depicts Taliban destroying phones in Afghanistan

The video is from a destruction ceremony held by Pakistan Customs

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Claim: A video doing the rounds on social media depicts the Taliban destroying mobile phones in Afghanistan.

Fact: The video is not of the Taliban destroying mobile phones in Afghanistan but of Pakistan Customs’ officers destroying smuggled and contraband goods at a destruction ceremony in Karachi.

Fact or Fiction:

On 13 January 2022, Facebook page Zain Ng shared a video claiming that it depicts the Taliban destroying mobile phones in Afghanistan. The video shows men in uniform stomping on mobile phones and other electronic devices while someone can be heard giving instructions in Urdu in the background. The caption of Zain Ng’s post reads, “Taliban terrorists in Afghanistan ban use of mobile phones in the country. They gathered them and set all ablaze”. The video was posted in the comments section.

The video was also shared on several Facebook groups, including here, here, here, here and here.

The video was then picked up by multiple Nigerian social media pages on Instagram, including YNajia, Real and Active 9ja Followers and Media Room Hub, among others.

Most of these accounts shared the 14-second clip,  with the same caption. However, their claim that the video shows the Afghan Taliban destroying phones or enforcing a ban on mobile phones is not true.

In the video, the Pakistani flag and Customs’ logo can be seen at 0:09 on the uniform of an officer who is wearing glasses. Further, in investigating the origins of the video, Soch Fact Check  found that a longer version of the same video was shared by Awami press club malir Reg on YouTube alongside the caption, “Customs Enforcement destroys huge quantity of smuggled, contraband goods in Karachi.” The officers can be clearly seen wearing Pakistan Customs’ uniforms in the longer version of the video, confirming that the short clip features Pakistani officers, not the Taliban.

Soch Fact Check also got in touch with Salahuddin Wazir, SPS Anti-smuggling Organization (ASO) Pakistan Customs, who confirmed that a destruction ceremony of confiscated goods was organized by the Collectorate of Customs (Enforcement) in Karachi on 29 December 2021, where he was also present. The goods included liquor, betel nuts, mobile phones, drugs and Pan Parag.

Virality:

Soch Fact Check ran a CrowdTangle analysis with the following search term:

  •       Taliban mobile phones Afghanistan

The analysis revealed that the search term received 1507 interactions across 82 posts on Facebook over the 30 days leading up to 27 January 2022.

Zain Ng’s post received 303 likes, 24 comments and two shares on Facebook. Meanwhile, the oldest post dates back to 12 January 2022.

On Instagram, the search term received 3,433 interactions across eight posts over the past 30 days.

Nigerian youth-focused blog YNaija’s post gained significant traction on the platform; 31,700 views, 1300 likes and 250 comments. It is also performing almost six times better than other similar posts. YNaija’s account, with around 212,000 followers, is verified.

Conclusion: The video is unrelated to the Taliban in Afghanistan;  it shows Pakistan Customs’ officers destroying smuggled and contraband goods in Karachi on 29 December 2021.

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