Facebook tightens ban on QAnon content

Facebook tightens ban on QAnon content
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Facebook announced an escalation of its ban on QAnon content Tuesday, pledging to ban all accounts affiliated with the sprawling conspiracy from its platform.

The social media giant in August banned QAnon accounts that specifically discussed violence, which led to 1,500 page, group and profile takedowns.

Starting Tuesday, the ban will extend to all affiliated pages, groups and accounts. 

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“We are starting to enforce this updated policy today and are removing content accordingly, but this work will take time and need[s] to continue in the coming days and weeks,” Facebook said in a blog post.

NBC News first reported on the updated policy.

QAnon’s supporters believe without evidence that Trump and his allies are working to expose and execute a cabal of Democrats, media figures and celebrities who are running an international child trafficking ring.

The unhinged theory has spread rapidly in the last year. Multiple candidates who have expressed support for QAnon have won their Republican primaries, and the president has publicly praised the theory's adherents.

The spread of the theory has been aided by the coronavirus pandemic, which has weakened trust in institutions and left many Americans alone with the internet to keep them entertained.

Social media has been key to the growth, and despite efforts from platforms including Facebook and Twitter to crack down on the dangerous community continues to be used to loop in unsuspecting people by boosting campaigns such as #SaveTheChildren and co-opting anti-mask groups. 

Facebook acknowledged Tuesday that QAnon pages have been able to evade enforcement by shifting messaging and using new terms.

“We expect renewed attempts to evade our detection, both in behavior and content shared on our platform, so we will continue to study the impact of our efforts and be ready to update our policy and enforcement as necessary,” the platform said.

The QAnon community has been linked to multiple cases of criminal activity and is considered a potential domestic terrorism threat by the FBI.

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenate dodges initial December crisis with last-minute deal Liberty University professor charged with alleged sexual battery and abduction of student Five Senate Democrats reportedly opposed to Biden banking nominee MORE (D-Va.) said Tuesday that while he was “pleased” by the policy update, Facebook’s track record on enforcement gives him pause.

“Ultimately the real test will be whether Facebook actually takes measures to enforce these new policies – we’ve seen in a myriad of other contexts, including with respect to right-wing militias like the Boogaloos, that Facebook has repeatedly failed to consistently enforce its existing policies,” he said in a statement.

Updated at 5:56 p.m.