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Facebook removes hundreds of QAnon groups and pages

Facebook removes hundreds of QAnon groups and pages
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Facebook on Wednesday banned roughly 900 groups and pages and 1,500 ads related to the QAnon conspiracy theory.

The removals were part of an expansion of the platform's policies on violent rhetoric, which also resulted in 10,000 Instagram pages and nearly 2,000 Facebook groups associated with QAnon having their reach limited.

The QAnon theory baselessly claims that President Trump and the military are working together to expose a shadowy cabal of figures in media, entertainment and politics that are trafficking children.

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In a blog post explaining the policy change Wednesday, Facebook noted that groups and pages dedicated to the theory have increasingly become a place to celebrate violent actions, even if some of them are not directly used to organize those actions.

The FBI labeled the loose QAnon community a potential domestic terror threat last year.

Moving forward, the pages affiliated with QAnon — as well as ones ties to "offline anarchist groups that support violent acts amidst protests" and "US-based militia organizations" — will be prohibited from purchasing ads or selling products in the platform's marketplaces.

Nonprofits that Facebook identifies as supporting those movements will also be barred from using the platform's fundraising tools.

QAnon, militia and anarchist protest groups will also be pushed down on users' newsfeeds and search engines.

These steps by Facebook, similar to ones taken by Twitter last month, come as increasing attention is being paid to the role social media platforms have played in the rapid growth of unhinged conspiracy theories like QAnon.

NBC News reported last week that an internal Facebook investigation uncovered thousands of groups and pages with millions of members and followers supporting the QAnon conspiracy theory. The Guardian has reported on similarly large groups.