Facebook broadens crackdown on QAnon

Facebook on Tuesday announced it’s implementing a broader effort to remove any content from the QAnon conspiracy theory movement across all its platforms.

What’s changing: The social media giant said it will remove any pages, groups and Instagram accounts linked to the baseless fringe movement, which is celebrated by some on the far right.

The expanded crackdown is starting immediately, Facebook said. The move goes beyond a policy the company announced in August of taking down QAnon content associated with potential violence.

“In the first month, we removed over 1,500 Pages and Groups for QAnon containing discussions of potential violence and over 6,500 Pages and Groups tied to more than 300 Militarized Social Movements,” Facebook said in its update on Tuesday. “But we believe these efforts need to be strengthened when addressing QAnon.”

Why this matters: QAnon has emerged as a pressure point this year for congressional Republicans and the White House given the conspiracy movement’s adulation of President Donald Trump and a mix of congressional contenders who have shown interest in these ideas. Several QAnon adherents showed up at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in recent days to wish the president well after his coronavirus diagnosis.

The House last week passed a bipartisan resolution condemning QAnon, with only 18 lawmakers voting against it. The FBI has labeled QAnon a potential domestic terrorism threat.

Among other claims, the movement posits that Trump is close to expelling Satan-worshiping pedophiles from the government.

What’s next: Facebook predicts “renewed attempts to evade our detection, both in behavior and content shared on our platform” and pledged to “continue to study the impact of our efforts and be ready to update our policy and enforcement as necessary.”

The move comes amid controversy over how social media platforms moderate content and only weeks ahead of the November election. Trump and many conservatives in Washington have ramped up accusations that social media companies harbor anti-conservative bias, although the companies deny putting any finger on the scale.

Some lawmakers immediately praised Facebook’s move, including the Senate Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat, Mark Warner of Virginia.

“Ultimately the real test will be whether Facebook actually takes measures to enforce these new policies — we’ve seen in a myriad of other contexts, including with respect to right-wing militias like the Boogaloos, that Facebook has repeatedly failed to consistently enforce its existing policies,” Warner said.


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