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Facebook completely bans conspiracy group QAnon on all its services

The new policy does not apply to individual accounts who promote QAnon under their identity.

twitter-logoIndia Today Tech | October 7, 2020 | Updated 10:35 IST
Facebook will take down QAnon, groups, themes, and accounts. (Picture: Reuters)

Highlights

  • Facebook will take down QAnon, groups, themes, and accounts.
  • This will also apply to Instagram accounts whose name or description supports the conspiracy theory group.
  • Facebook’s first attempt to restrict such accounts came in August but was not sufficient.

Facebook is cracking down on groups, themes, and accounts that represent the QAnon movement. If a group's description or name suggests that it supports QAnon, Facebook will take it down. This applies to Instagram accounts as well.

It will not apply to individual content, nor to individual Instagram users who post frequently about QAnon but do not explicitly identify themselves as representing the QAnon movement.

QAnon refers to a conspiracy theory group that propagates the idea that US President Donald Trump is fighting a group of elites in the US government who run a child trafficking ring. The movement has gained recognition in the recent months from Eric Trump, support from some Republican congressional candidates, as well as retweets from the President itself, as per reports.

Facebook's first attempt to restrict such accounts came in August when it removed around 1500 QAnon accounts and groups for showing potential violence. The previous attempts were, however, insufficient as the spread of the movement has been termed as a potential domestic terror threat by the FBI.

"We've been vigilant in enforcing our policy and studying its impact on the platform but we've seen several issues that led to today's update," Facebook said in a blog post. "For example, 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 and protecting the public."

The new rules will be enforced by Facebook's Dangerous Organizations Operations team, the group that also enforces ban on terror and hate groups. The new policy does not restrict the individual accounts who promote QAnon under their identities, which is a loophole in the crackdown. Many Facebook groups have started using codes like 17 as a substitute for Q right from April, The Guardian reported.

"QAnon messaging changes very quickly and we see networks of supporters build an audience with one message and then quickly pivot to another," Facebook said. "We expect renewed attempts to evade our detection, both in behavior and content shared on our platform, so we will continue to study the impact of our efforts and be ready to update our policy and enforcement as necessary."

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Tags: Facebook | QAnon
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