Aug 19, 2020 - Technology

Facebook draws a line on QAnon

Illustration of a blue flag with the Facebook "f" logo on it

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Facebook announced on Wednesday it has banned or restricted hundreds of groups, pages and Instagram accounts that "demonstrated significant risks to public safety" via their ties to the right-wing QAnon conspiracy movement.

Why it matters: QAnon has morphed from a fringe conspiracy theory into a sprawling network of falsehoods sowing fear and confusion as it has seeped into the mainstream and taken stances on critical issues like the coronavirus pandemic and election integrity.

Details: Facebook said it will restrict the spread of QAnon content on its pages, groups and Instagram accounts. The company will allow people to post content that supports movements such as QAnon if other policies are not broken, such as those against harassment, fake accounts, hate speech or inciting violence.

  • Facebook said that QAnon pages and groups will be ranked lower in its News Feed in the "near future" and that hashtags, titles or accounts associated with the conspiracy theory will be demoted in search results.

By the numbers: The company noted that it has removed over 790 groups, 100 pages and 1,500 ads tied to QAnon, leveled restrictions on over 10,000 Instagram accounts alongside 1,950 groups and 440 Facebook pages, and blocked more than 300 hashtags across Facebook and Instagram.

What to watch: Facebook's hard line against spreading QAnon misinformation could further inflame accusations from Republicans, including President Trump, that social media platforms are biased against conservatives.

  • At least 11 Republican congressional nominees have publicly supported or defended QAnon, which claims without proof that the "deep state" is waging a secret war against Trump, based on posts from an anonymous internet user claiming to be an administration official.
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