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Facebook Bans QAnon Accounts Across All Platforms to Curb Misinformation

October 7, 2020, 05.09 PM

SAN FRANCISCO, – Facebook and Instagram set to ban all accounts linked to the QAnon conspiracy group ahead of the divisive US presidential election.

The social media company announced the ban as it tries to clamp down on misinformation as the November election draws near.

The move against QAnon at Facebook and its image-sharing platform Instagram comes as the Big Tech company works to avoid being taken advantage of in deceiving or confusing voters.

Read also: QAnon Conspiracy Theory Finds Global Popularity during Pandemic

This had happened during the 2016 US presidential election that catapulted President Donald Trump into the White House seat.

 "We will remove any Facebook Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts representing QAnon, even if they contain no violent content," the internet titan said in a blog post.

From an anonymous 2017 posting claiming bizarre child exploitation and political plots, the headless and bodiless movement has earned a place in Trump's Twitter stream.

The FBI last year said in a report that QAnon was one of several movements that could drive "both groups and individual extremists to carry out criminal or violent acts".

The ban on the conspiracy group's accounts steps up Facebook's efforts to clamp down on misinformation campaigns sometimes endorsed by President Trump, weeks ahead of the US presidential election on November 3.

Read also: QAnon Supporter Marjorie Greene Wins GOP Seat in Georgia

"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," said Anti-Defamation League Chief Executive Jonathan Greenblatt.

"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 moves made across Facebook and Instagram were against accounts tied to "offline anarchist groups that support violent acts amidst protests, US-based militia organizations and QAnon," according to the blog post.

The leading social network recently prohibited ads that praise, support or represent militarized social movements and QAnon.

Read also: Facebook Failed to Remove Militia Page Linked to Kenosha Unrest

Facebook in August removed hundreds of groups tied to QAnon and imposed restrictions on nearly 2,000 more as part of a crackdown on stoking violence.

Critics have charged that inflammatory content from the conspiracy group was spreading on Facebook despite the platform's proclaimed effort to contain it.

Stoking flames

Facebook said it tightened its prohibition on QAnon after noticing that, despite taking down posts directly promoting violence, the group's supporter messages adapted to avoid restrictions.

For example, the group used the platform to claim deadly wildfires raging on the West Coast were started by certain groups, which diverted the attention of police and firefighters.

Read also: Facebook Removes Posts Linked to Oregon Wildfires to Stop Misinformation

"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.

The social network already bans content calling for violence and organizations that proclaim violent missions.

The increasingly visible and vocal followers of the group promote a bewildering blend of unsubstantiated conspiracy theories.

Once on the fringes of the internet and focused on US politics, the movement has seen sharp growth on mainstream social media platforms this year.

Read also: Facebook to Ban Political Ads A Week Before November Election

The movement centered on the unsubstantiated belief that the world is run by a cabal of Satan-worshippers has extended that this year to allege, without proof, that the coronavirus is a conspiracy by that group to control people using vaccines and 5G.

Social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube have ramped up surveillance for QAnon content, as adherents attempt to bypass the new filters. 

(Writer: Glenn Chapman)


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