2020 comes with another crazy twist in events. It seems that after receiving so much criticism for potentially having intervened and impacted the 2016 elections, Facebook, the social networking giant, announced earlier this month that it will be banning all QAnon accounts from its platforms.
For those of you who are not sure what QAnon is, here is a brief introduction: QAnon is a sprawling internet conspiracy theory that has gained popularity and taken hold among some of President Trump’s supporters. Once an insignificant phenomenon, something that people could ignore, in recent months, as the pandemic’s forced everyone to be more and more online, the conspiracy theory has gone mainstream.
Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as 4-cha and 8-chan (where this chain originally began), have been flooded with QAnon-related false information about COVID-19, the 2020 elections, and the Black Lives Matter protests. In order to expand their ranks and reach an even wider audience, QAnon supporters have been trying to attach themselves to other activist causes, such as the anti-child trafficking movements, and anti-vaccine movements. If this isn’t enough for you, according to The New York Times: “The Federal Bureau of Investigation has warned that QAnon poses a potential domestic terror threat.”
Following rising pressure, and in an attempt to perhaps correct wrongs from its past, Facebook has begun to crack down on the far-right conspiracy movement by locating and banning QAnon-related accounts.
This may be a difficult task seeing as there is no way for the algorithm to truly detect what is fake news and what isn’t. After all, following what we’ve recently learned, we may not really have any control over the algorithm that we’ve created.
In a press release, Facebook announced: “Starting today, we will remove any Facebook Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts representing QAnon, even if they contain no violent content. This is an update from the initial policy in August that removed Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts associated with QAnon when they discussed potential violence while imposing a series of restrictions to limit the reach of other Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts associated with the movement. Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts that represent an identified Militarized Social Movement are already prohibited. And we will continue to disable the profiles of admins who manage Pages and Groups removed for violating this policy, as we began doing in August.”
It seems that Facebook has deployed a specific task force called Dangerous Organizations Operations who will be in charge of tracking down and banning the accounts that pause a national security threat: “We are starting to enforce this updated policy today and are removing content accordingly, but this work will take time and need to continue in the coming days and weeks. Our Dangerous Organizations Operations team will continue to enforce this policy and proactively detect content for removal instead of relying on user reports.”
We can only hope that this effort to suspend a number of QAnon-related accounts will curb the spread of misinformation and prevent online harassment.
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