In a bold move, the online tech giant Facebook has banned the controversial conspiracy theorist group QAnon. The ruling comes in one of Facebook’s broadest rules to be put in place yet, and a dramatic escalation in the scale of controls previously in place. The announcement came on August 19th, 2020 via a post on the company’s website titled: ‘An Update to How We Address Movements and Organizations Tied to Violence’. Restrictions will be put in place for those posting about violence in their updates, especially those related to over 300 Militarised Social Movements and QAnon accounts. The regulations are being implemented across all of Facebook’s online social platforms, with Facebook Pages and Groups, and Instagram accounts targeted in particular.
The update talks of an effort to combat QAnon’s quick-changing messaging, emphasizing the group’s ability to easily manipulate the online conversation. It states: ‘QAnon messaging changes very quickly and we see networks of supporters build an audience with one message and then quickly pivot to another. We aim to combat this more effectively with this update that strengthens and expands our enforcement against the conspiracy theory movement.’ The update comes amongst growing concerns of the tech industry’s involvement in their user’s private lives, and relationship with how user data is sold and managed. In a forward thrust to investigate the four biggest tech companies in America right now, Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Apple were held in court on July 29th of this year.
In response to increased scrutiny of the movement, there have been calls on Twitter since late September for users to obscure the movement’s origins. Thought to have started sometime in 2016, as Trump was elected to the White House, the group went on to receive mainstream attention from the press beginning around 2018. With the group facing growing pressure, they have also instructed users to hide their QAnon affiliations from their online profiles.