Facebook have today announced it will be tightening its policy against QAnon, a conspiracy theory that paints US President Donald Trump as a secret warrior against a supposed child-trafficking ring run by celebrities and government officials.
Less than two months ago, Facebook announced new measures to stop QAnon and other militarised social movements, but only if they promoted violence.
Since then, the social platform has had significant progress.
“In the first month, we removed over 1,500 Pages and Groups for QAnon containing discussions of potential violence and over 6,500 Pages and Groups tied to more than 300 Militarized Social Movements,” the blog post said.
“But we believe these efforts need to be strengthened when addressing QAnon.”
In an updated blog post, the company said it “will remove any Facebook Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts representing QAnon, even if they contain no violent content”.
Facebook says they will start enforcing the updated policy from today and begin removing content, but said it will take time.
“Our Dangerous Organizations Operations team will continue to enforce this policy and proactively detect content for removal instead of relying on user reports,” the post said.
This team is the same group who enforce Facebook’s ban on terrorist and hate groups.
The new policy against QAnon isn’t as strict as rules against terror and hate groups.
The company is not banning individual users from posting in support of movement but instead of those who represent QAnon. This potentially leaves a loophole for influencers who promote QAnon under their own identities.
The QAnon movement has spread across a patchwork of secret Facebook groups, Twitter accounts and YouTube videos in recent years, and has been linked to real-world violence such as criminal reports of kidnapping and claims that COVID-19 is a hoax.
It has also found its way into politics, Trump praised QAnon followers in August and refused to debunk its false claims. Several Republican’s running for Congress this year are QAnon-friendly.
The movement has used the hashtags #SaveTheChildren and #SaveOurChildren in an effort that has helped introduce QAnon ideas to new audiences.
Last week Facebook addressed this method by directing people to credible child safety resources when they search using the hashtags, and are working with external experts to address QAnon using this issue to recruit.
Reddit, which began banning QAnon groups in 2018, was ahead of Facebook, and has since mostly avoided any notable QAnon presence on its platform.