Facebook classified QAnon conspiracy theory movement as dangerous on Tuesday and banned all accounts and groups linked to it. The move is a major escalation since August from Facebook’s earlier actions of restricting the reach of such posts and banning just a third of QAnon groups for promoting violence. Facebook will now treat QAnon like other militarised bodies instead of just relying on user reports.
What is QAnon?
QAnon is a conspiracy theory that says US President Donald Trump is battling satan-worshipping pedophiles among elite circles.
After Facebook put restrictions on QAnon in the month of August, some QAnon members have resorted to adding members using code-language in order to avoid detection.
Meanwhile, adherents have worked to integrate themselves in other groups, such as those concerned with child safety and those critical of restrictions on gatherings due to the coronavirus, according to researchers at Facebook and elsewhere.
“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,” Facebook wrote.
“QAnon messaging changes very quickly and we see networks of supporters build an audience with one message and then quickly pivot to another.”
Recent QAnon posts have spread false information about voting and about COVID-19, researchers said, even claiming that President Donald Trump faked his diagnosis of COVID-19 in order to orchestrate secret arrests.
Classed as a potential source of domestic terrorism by the FBI, QAnon is driven by an anonymous internet poster nicknamed Q who claims to be a Trump administration insider. The core, nonsensical claim is that Trump is secretly leading a crackdown against an enormous pedophile ring that includes prominent Democrats and the Hollywood elite.
There has been no surge in arrests, and the fictitious Satanic rituals that the group cites echo longstanding legends used to anger people for political reasons, often against minorities.
Trump has praised the group as patriotic, and more than a dozen Republican congressional candidates have promoted it.