“Starting today, we will remove any Facebook Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts representing QAnon, even if they contain no violent content,” the social giant said Tuesday.
The pro-Donald Trump movement known as QAnon, which first surfaced in 2017 on 4chan, is primarily “an online trolling and disinformation movement” whose followers believe “world governments are being controlled by a shadowy cabal of pedophiles (who will eventually be brought to justice by President Trump),” according to the Anti-Defamation League.
Facebook said that it started to enforce the blanket ban on QAnon starting Tuesday and that it is “removing content accordingly, but this work will take time and need to continue in the coming days and weeks.”
The company said it also will “continue to work with external experts to address QAnon supporters using the issue of child safety to recruit and organize.”
The latest move comes after Facebook initially in August took down several hundred QAnon groups on Facebook and Instagram that had “discussed potential violence.”
The company cited several issues that led to its decision to completely ban QAnon. In addition to posts from the movement’s supporters calling for violence, Facebook said it has seen the emergence of “other QAnon content tied to different forms of real-world harm,” including false claims that West Coast wildfires were started by left-wing groups, “which diverted attention of local officials from fighting the fires and protecting the public.”
Facebook also said that “QAnon messaging changes very quickly and we see networks of supporters build an audience with one message and then quickly pivot to another.” The company said it is aiming to combat that tactic “more effectively with this update that strengthens and expands our enforcement against the conspiracy theory movement.”
In its initial action against QAnon in August, the company also implemented a series of restrictions to limit the reach of other Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts associated with the movement. Facebook said it removed over 790 groups, 100 Pages and 1,500 ads from Facebook related to QAnon, and blocked over 300 QAnon-related hashtags across Facebook and Instagram. In addition, it imposed restrictions on over 1,950 Groups and 440 Pages on Facebook and over 10,000 Instagram accounts.
Earlier in August, Facebook shut down the “Official Q/Qanon” group, which had nearly 200,000 members, over violations of policies prohibiting bullying and harassment, hate speech, and misinformation.
“Facebook’s decision to ban QAnon from all its platforms is a much needed, if belated, step to purge dangerous conspiracy theories from the platform,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “We hope that this is a sincere effort to purge hate and antisemitism from their platform, and not another knee-jerk response to pressure from members of Congress and the public.” The ADL is one of the founders of the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, which organized an advertiser boycott of Facebook aimed at spurring the company to crack down on hate speech.
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