The policy will apply to groups, pages, and Instagram accounts that belong to the QAnon movement
On Tuesday, Facebook announced they will ban any groups, pages, or Instagram accounts that “represent” QAnon, or suggest they are affiliated with QAnon in their page descriptions. The news comes as an update to a policy change that went into effect in August, which initially only terminated 1,500 pages, groups, and profiles of conspiracies about violence.
QAnon is far-right, unfounded conspiracy theory initially spread by one user, “Q,” on underground internet boards like 4chan and 8chan. The group has been likened to a “Nazi cult” and is often praised by Republican lawmakers. The group purports Donald Trump as a savior against a secret war full of Satan-worshipping child traffickers and pedophiles in government, the entertainment industry, and various businesses. Believers of this conspiracy believe a “day of reckoning” will come where prominent people, ranging from Hillary Clinton to Chrissy Teigen, will be arrested and executed for their “crimes.”
If you’ve seen anyone use the hashtag #SaveTheChildren, for example, then you’ve seen a theory of QAnon in action. (For what it’s worth, sex trafficking is very real, but it primarily affects immigrants and poor people of color, not white suburbanites and their white children in shopping center parking lots midday.)
Facebook’s new policy will not apply to individual content on its platform or Instagram accounts where users frequently post these theories — only to people who identify themselves as representing the QAnon movement. Their initial efforts to curb QAnon misinformation earlier this summer simply weren’t enough to slow the spread of the movement.
QAnon theories have spread like wildfire across social media during the past few years, particularly during the current presidential election cycle. The movement, which used to be underground and limited in size, has grown exponentially in 2020. A QAnon supporter — Marjorie Taylor Greene — even won Georgia’s House primary back in August, thrusting these dangerous and baseless theories and the support for them in the mainstream limelight. She is also endorsed by Donald Trump.
In a news release, Facebook said they need to limit the ability of groups like QAnon and other “militarized social movements” from organizing and operating on their social media platforms. The FBI has identified QAnon theories as a “potential domestic terror threat.”
“We’re starting to enforce this updated policy today and are removing content accordingly, but this work will take time and will continue in the coming days and weeks,” Facebook said, per NBC News. “Our Dangerous Organizations Operations team will continue to enforce this policy and proactively detect content for removal instead of relying on user reports.”
The most recent QAnon theory sparked just last week, with supporters claiming Vice President Joe Biden was wearing an earpiece to give him an unfair advantage during the presidential debate.