October 7, 2020
A new Facebook policy will see all profiles linked to the QAnon conspiracy community wiped from the platform whether or not they promote violence, in the company’s latest crackdown on what it claims is a dangerous movement.
Facebook announced the new measures on Tuesday, explaining that the decision updates a policy imposed in Augusttargeting QAnon accounts “containing discussions of potential violence,” broadening the ban to any profiles affiliated with the movement. The policy will also apply to Instagram.
“Starting today, we will remove any Facebook Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts representing QAnon, even if they contain no violent content,” the company said, arguing that the group is tied to other types of “real world harm.”
While we’ve removed QAnon content that celebrates and supports violence, we’ve seen other QAnon content tied to different forms of real world harm, including recent claims that the west coast wildfires were started by certain groups, which diverted attention of local officials from fighting the fires.
Starting today, we'll remove any Facebook Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts representing QAnon, even without violent content. This is an update from August when we began removing Pages, Groups and accounts associated with QAnon when they discussed potential violence. https://t.co/Gm60rwOwY9
— Andy Stone (@andymstone) October 6, 2020
The initial ban on accounts promoting violence saw over 1,500 QAnon pages and groups scrubbed from the platform, as well as more than 6,500 linked to other “militarized social movements,” including Antifa and various militia groups. However, the new sweeping ban does not appear to apply to the other movements, singling out the pro-Trump conspiracy community by name.
The move has been blasted as another clampdown on free expression online, with even some self-avowed opponents of QAnon deeming it “chilling for free speech.”
QAnon’s idiotic, but this is chilling for free speech. I don’t foresee it being long before the courts start to look at Facebook et all as quasi-public spaces where at least some level of scrutiny is appropriate.
— Dusty Moonshine (@DustyMoonshine) October 6, 2020
when social media platforms get into content filtering you know the end is near
— LFXS (@lfxs1212) October 6, 2020
Others questioned why the new ban targeted QAnon alone, even as a number of militant left-wing groups openly “discuss which city they are going to burn down next.”
But not Antifa, even though they're literally a terrorist organization with cells in every major city, complete with uniforms and flags. https://t.co/mQAewCzGKW
— Mark Dice (@MarkDice) October 6, 2020
Facebook is banning all Qanon accounts for researching. Yet Antifa and BLM are still allowed to discuss which city they are going to burn down next. pic.twitter.com/HwzRy59khw
— Jimmy Holland (@BluesBrother91) October 6, 2020
Some countered the free speech proponents, however, calling for the deplatforming of “dangerous disinformation” and “QAnon cult followers,” among them Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-Virginia) and California state Senator Scott Wiener. Others said the decision should have been made long ago.
Glad to see Facebook step up efforts to keep dangerous disinformation off its platforms. They have a responsibility to clean up the mess they made.
Our national security, public health, and democracy depend on it. https://t.co/OfIXDkv41j
— Rep. Jennifer Wexton (@RepWexton) October 6, 2020
Good on Facebook for defining QAnon as a “Dangerous Organization” & banning it.
QAnon is a delusional conspiracy theory cult.
I know, since QAnon cult followers sent me more than 1,000 death threats because I passed legislation to protect LGBTQ youth. https://t.co/idKIgGjkpG
— Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) October 6, 2020
Wow! What has happened to make social media companies suddenly take steps they should've taken years ago?
— annie gray (@snooze_cat) October 6, 2020
Facebook is not the only platform to attempt to purge its Q-friendly users, as Twitter announced its own massive ban of up to 150,000 QAnon-related accounts, blacklisting the group in its recommendations and Trends tabs while barring any associated web links. Like Facebook, Twitter alleged the group’s behavior had “the potential to lead to offline harm,” also citing “coordinated harmful activity” and “platform manipulation.”
The QAnon movement gained prominence after the election of Donald Trump to the presidency in 2016. While the group embraces a range of theories, some more outlandish than others, many center on the notion that a secretive cabal of Satan worshipers and child sex traffickers has infiltrated world governments, and that the president is working to bring them down.
This article was posted: Wednesday, October 7, 2020 at 5:42 am