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.

Go deeper

Sep 22, 2020 - Technology

Stop Hate for Profit social media boycott to focus its pressure on Facebook

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facebook will continue to be the face of the biggest industry campaign against misinformation leading up to the election, according to Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

Driving the news: In an interview with Axios, Greenblatt, whose group is part of the Stop Hate for Profit social media boycott campaign, said that the group plans to focus its boycott efforts on Facebook, because of its scale and because he says the company is less proactive than rivals like Twitter and YouTube on policing misinformation and hate speech.

Mike Allen, author of AM
19 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden pushes unity message in new TV wave

A fresh Joe Biden ad, "New Start," signals an effort by his campaign to make unity a central theme, underscoring a new passage in his stump speech that says he won't be a president just for Democrats but for all Americans.

What he's saying: The ad — which began Friday night, and is a follow-up to "Fresh Start" — draws from a Biden speech earlier in the week in Manitowoc, Wisconsin:

Updated 46 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 6:30 p.m. ET: 32,390,204 — Total deaths: 985,302 — Total recoveries: 22,286,345Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6:30 p.m ET: 7,020,967 — Total deaths: 203,481 — Total recoveries: 2,710,183 — Total tests: 98,476,600Map.
  3. States: "We’re not closing anything going forward": Florida fully lifts COVID restaurant restrictions — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam tests positive for coronavirus.
  4. Health: Young people accounted for 20% of cases this summer.
  5. Business: Coronavirus has made airports happier places The expiration of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance looms.
  6. Education: Where bringing students back to school is most risky.