Facebook intensifies its crackdown on QAnon conspiracy theory

Facebook has actually faced criticism that it isn’t doing enough to combat political misinformation.

Facebook is breaking down on groups, pages and ads connected to QAnon, a conservative conspiracy theory that wrongly declares there’s a “deep state” plot versus President Donald Trump and his fans.

On Wednesday, the world’s largest social media network said it took down 790 groups, 100 pages and 1,500 advertisements connected to the conspiracy theory, a move that shows social networks sites are ramping up their efforts to fight incorrect information in the middle of criticism they do not do enough to resolve the problem. In July, Twitter Said it pulled down more than 7,000 QAnon accounts that broke its rules.

Facebook has been under fire for refraining from doing enough to slow the spread of the QAnon conspiracy theory. The Guardian reported in August that QAnon groups on Facebook are “growing at a rapid rate.” NBC News, mentioning internal Facebook documents, also reported that month that QAnon groups on Facebook have countless members. Meanwhile, Facebook is under more pressure to combat hate speech on its site after countless services stopped advertising on the site in July as part of a campaign arranged by civil liberties groups.

The social network said it’s taking more actions to limit the reach of QAnon. It blocked 300 hashtags throughout Facebook and Instagram, the picture service it owns, related to the conspiracy theory. It’s likewise limited more than 1,950 groups and 440 pages on Facebook and more than 10,000 Instagram accounts tied to QAnon.

Facebook currently has guidelines against prompting violence and a policy against what Facebook calls “unsafe people and organizations.” The company stated it’s broadening that policy to “deal with organizations and motions that have shown substantial threats to public safety” however do not fulfil the criteria to be thought about a “harmful company” that Facebook would ban. Hazardous companies consist of groups associated with terrorism, criminal activity, arranged hate and mass murder.

“While we will permit people to post material that supports these motions and groups, so long as they do not otherwise break our material policies, we will restrict their ability to organize on our platform,” Facebook stated in a blog post. The business stated it would remove accounts, pages and groups that discuss prospective violence consisting of those that use “veiled language and symbols” to do so. Accounts that don’t meet the bar for elimination will not be included in Facebook’s suggestion to users about which groups to follow and will be ranked lower in the News Feed, restricted in the search results page and barred from buying ads and fundraising.

While Facebook is restricting the reach of QAnon, it’s uncertain how reliable the social network’s efforts will be. Material moderation can be like a video game of whack-a-mole and users try to find methods around a ban or limitations.

Alex Stamos, the previous Facebook chief gatekeeper who now directs the Stanford Web Observatory, said Wednesday night that QAnon is “closer to religious beliefs than anything else now.”

“It’s a belief system that no matter what facts come out they’re able … to fit those realities into their theory,” Stamos said in a virtual talk hosted by The Commonwealth Club.

The “true believers” of QAnon arrange on a core platform, then carry their message to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and other major social media websites.

“You have this core that I believe will only be strengthened by the activity on the periphery where they’re shutting … down their ability to spread their message,” Stamos stated.

At a White Home press conference Wednesday, Trump said he didn’t know much about the QAnon motion however also applauded the conspiracy theory community.

“I don’t know much about the movement aside from I understand they like me quite, which I appreciate,” he stated. “I have heard that these people love our nation.”

Facebook has also been punishing militia organizations such as Antifa. The company has actually gotten rid of more than 980 groups, 520 pages and 160 advertisements from the social media network related to these organizations. On Instagram, the business has limited more 1,400 hashtags related to these groups and companies.

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