Facebook said it removed hundreds of Facebook Pages, groups and Instagram accounts tied to conspiracy-theorist cult QAnon as well as those of “offline anarchist groups” including those that identify with the Antifa movement.
The social giant said that it is restricting such groups’ ability to organize on its platforms, saying it will allow users to post content that “supports these movements and groups” — but only as long as they do not otherwise violate Facebook content policies. As part of the crackdown, Facebook also blocked hashtags associated with QAnon as well as those connected to Antifa and other violent groups.
“We already remove content calling for or advocating violence and we ban organizations and individuals that proclaim a violent mission,” Facebook said in a statement Wednesday. “However, we have seen growing movements that, while not directly organizing violence, have celebrated violent acts, shown that they have weapons and suggest they will use them, or have individual followers with patterns of violent behavior.”
Facebook said it expanded its “Dangerous Individuals and Organizations” policy to block organizations and movements “that have demonstrated significant risks to public safety but do not meet the rigorous criteria to be designated as a dangerous organization and banned from having any presence on our platform.”
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Related to QAnon, Facebook said it removed over 790 groups, 100 Pages and 1,500 ads from Facebook, and blocked over 300 QAnon-related hashtags across Facebook and Instagram. In addition, it imposed restrictions on over 1,950 Groups and 440 Pages on Facebook and over 10,000 Instagram accounts.
For militia organizations and those “encouraging riots,” including some that may identify as Antifa, Facebook said it initially removed over 980 groups, 520 Pages and 160 ads from Facebook and also restricted over 1,400 hashtags on Instagram related to those groups and organizations.
The announcement comes after Facebook earlier this month shut down one of the biggest QAnon groups on the service — with nearly 200,000 members — for violating Facebook policies prohibiting bullying and harassment, hate speech, and misinformation.
The pro-Donald Trump movement known as QAnon, which surfaced in 2017 on 4chan, is primarily “an online trolling and disinformation movement” whose followers believe “world governments are being controlled by a shadowy cabal of pedophiles (who will eventually be brought to justice by President Trump),” according to the Anti-Defamation League.
In June, Facebook announced a blanket ban on the “boogaloo” far-right antigovernment movement. The company said at the time “is the latest step in our commitment to ban people who proclaim a violent mission from using our platform.”
In announcing the removal of the QAnon groups and other accounts, Facebook said it will continue to monitor its platforms for violations.
The company’s policy-enforcement teams will “study trends in attempts to skirt our enforcement so we can adapt,” Facebook said. “These movements and groups evolve quickly, and our teams will follow them closely and consult with outside experts so we can continue to enforce our policies against them.”