This week, Facebook Inc. changed its policy on posts and groups linked to the QAnon movement. The social media company began removing more groups, pages as well as Instagram accounts with a connection to QAnon.
Listed as a possible source of domestic terrorism by the FBI, the QAnon movement is driven by an internet poster called Q. Q, whose identity is unknown, claims to be a Trump administration insider.
The group’s main claim is that Trump is secretly leading a campaign against a large pedophile, or child sex, group that includes well-known Democrats and the Hollywood elite.
This is not the first step that Facebook has taken against QAnon. An August policy banned a third of QAnon groups for promoting violence. The August policy allowed most of the groups to stay, although their posts appeared less often in news feeds.
FILE - In this May 14, 2020, file photo, a person carries a sign supporting QAnon at a protest rally in Olympia, Wash. Facebook said Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, that it will remove Facebook pages, groups and Instagram accounts for “representing QAnon.”
Instead of relying on user reports, Facebook staff now will treat QAnon like militarized groups - even if the posts do not have violent material. The company is finding and removing Q Anon groups and pages, the company said in a blog post.
Since the August restrictions, some QAnon groups have added members. Others have used special language to avoid being found. For example, some members use the word “cue” instead of the letter Q.
Meanwhile, some QAnon members have joined other groups. These groups include those concerned with child safety and those critical of coronavirus restrictions. That information comes from researchers at Facebook and elsewhere.
“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,” Facebook wrote.“QAnon messaging changes very quickly.”
Recent QAnon posts have spread false information about voting and about COVID-19, researchers said. Other posts claimed that President Donald Trump faked getting COVID-19 in order to organize secret arrests.
Critics said Facebook’s move was much-needed, but possibly a little late.
QAnon has already moved into mainstream politics. Several Republican running for Congress this year are QAnon-friendly.
Jonathan A. Greenblatt is CEO of the Anti-Defamation League and one of the founders of the Stop Hate for Profit campaign. The campaigned organized a Facebook boycott by advertisers.
“Now that they have announced that they will treat the QAnon ideology like the very real threat that it is, we hope that they will follow up with some ... evidence showing how the ban is being enforced and whether it is fully effective,” Greenblatt said.
I'm John Russell.
Words in This Story
account – n. an arrangement in which a person uses the Internet, e-mail, or social media services of a particular company
poster – n. a person who writes messages on an online message board
content – n. the ideas, facts, or images that are in a book, article, speech, movie, etc.
fake – v. to make (something) seem real or true in order to trick someone
ideology – n. the set of ideas and beliefs of a group or political party