Facebook has announced a crackdown on QAnon, anti-fascist, and militia groups on the platform. The move comes as the company signalled it was expanding its Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy. This policy covers groups the company defines as those which have “demonstrated significant risks to public safety”.
QAnon activism has become noticeable in Ireland in recent months. Regular protests organised by QAnon advocates outside the GPO in Dublin have on occasion resulted in scuffles with anti-racism activists.
Facebook announced the move in a press release. In the statement it said that it had removed 790 groups and 100 pages dedicated to QAnon from the platform. It also revealed that it had also eliminated 1,500 ads and “over 300 hashtags” on Facebook and Instagram related to QAnon.
What’s more, the company stated that it had placed restrictions on 1,950 groups and 440 pages. And it has put similar constraints on over 10,000 QAnon accounts on Instagram.
Although these groups and pages haven’t been removed, Facebook stated that its “team continues to review their content against our updated policy”.
Along those lines the company also declared that it would be doing more to tackle misinformation, declaring:
Misinformation that does not put people at risk of imminent violence or physical harm but is rated false by third-party fact-checkers will be reduced in News Feed so fewer people see it.
Amongst the other actions Facebook said it was taking will be limiting the recommendations of QAnon groups that members of other groups receive. And it will be reducing the news feed and search ranking of pages and groups which breach its policies.
QAnon activism has begun to take hold in Ireland in recent months. Adherents of the conspiracy theory have held regular protests outside the GPO in Dublin for the last three months.
Aoife Gallagher, of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), told The Beacon in an interview that QAnon has a “cult-like quality”. And she went on to argue that as it spreads internationally, “it is breeding localised disinformation and conspiracies”.
But Facebook also disclosed that it was classing anti-fascist pages and groups in the same category as QAnon and right-wing militia organisations. As a result, it stated that it removed hundreds of pages and groups dedicated to the issue.
Journalist Nick Martin, who reports on right-wing extremism in the US, voiced his confusion on Twitter about the move. He pointed out that Facebook “provided no insight” as to why the groups were “counted together”.