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Facebook announced on Tuesday it would ban all accounts, pages and groups representing the fringe conspiracy theory QAnon from its platforms.

Why it matters: Facebook previously banned or restricted hundreds of groups, pages and Instagram accounts that "demonstrated significant risks to public safety" due to their ties to QAnon, but the latest update goes even further — removing all accounts "even if they contain no violent content."

Context: QAnon is a sprawling, far-right conspiracy theory that falsely alleges a secret cabal of sex traffickers and pedophiles is waging a war against President Trump from inside the government. Trump has previously praised the group, which the FBI has deemed a potential domestic terrorist threat, saying that he understands its supporters "like me very much" and that they "love America."

The big picture: The move comes as Facebook, long accused of bending over backward to accommodate the right, looks to take action against harmful rhetoric coming from conservative groups and figures. Just this morning, Facebook took swifter action than Twitter against a post from President Trump falsely claiming COVID-19 is less deadly than the flu.

Yes, but: Facebook has its work cut out for it with the hard ban. QAnon supporters have already gotten canny about dodging enforcement actions from social media platforms, and the movement is increasingly intermingling with more anodyne-seeming calls to protect children that may be hard to claw apart from the conspiracy theory.

What they're saying: "We’ve been vigilant in enforcing our policy and studying its impact on the platform but we’ve seen several issues that led to today’s update," Facebook said in a statement.

  • "For example, 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, which diverted attention of local officials from fighting the fires and protecting the public."
  • "Additionally, QAnon messaging changes very quickly and we see networks of supporters build an audience with one message and then quickly pivot to another. We aim to combat this more effectively with this update that strengthens and expands our enforcement against the conspiracy theory movement."

Go deeper: QAnon's 2020 resurgence

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