Just this past Wednesday, one of the biggest purges to ever make its way through Facebook occurred. Facebook announced that they removed nearly 800 groups related to the pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy in the latest purge sweep.
In a blog post published this past week, Facebook mentioned a new policy on how they would handle borderline violent content. One of the main points of focus in the post was US-based military organizations and QAnon. Facebook now says that these groups will be unable to organize on the platform, however, they will not ban the topics they promote, as long as they do not call for real-world violence in any way.
The blog post reads:
“We already remove content calling for or advocating violence and we ban organizations and individuals that proclaim a violent mission. However, we have seen growing movements that, while not directly organizing violence, have celebrated violent acts, shown that they have weapons and suggest they will use them, or have individual followers with patterns of violent behavior.”
It is no question that the general public has seen Facebook struggle for quite some time to contain far-right or fringe movements. These groups often organize in the platform using private groups, meaning the moderation sector of the platform never takes notice.
Even when moderators take notice, the removal of these groups or content is inconsistent and the delayed application of the removal makes way for growth.
During the past six months of the pandemic, QAnon and other causes affiliated with the US militia have grown in numbers. One of the most notable is the Boogaloo movement, which is an organized group of anti-government and pro-gun individuals who are advocating for another Civil War.
Facebook began removing groups associated with QAnon at the beginning of the year before the widespread protests spread throughout the United States. However, many more popped up as the year went on.
This is one of the biggest threats to QAnon and other militia groups that Facebook is responsible for. On the main app for Facebook, 790 groups have been removed, including 1,500 QAnon-associated ads and 100 pages. 300 hashtags have been blocked across the Facebook platform, as well as the Instagram platform. 10,000 accounts have been restricted on Instagram in total.
Any groups calling for a violent insurrection that have links to militia organizations have also been removed, which makes over 980 groups and 520 pages.
The policy here is known as the “Dangerous Individuals and Organizations Policy.” Facebook notes that this policy, which is designed to combat terrorist organizations or other hate groups, has been very sufficient in dealing with groups that pose risks to the public.
Facebook says that US militia groups and QAnon groups are dangerous and often promote conspiracy theories and misinformation. However, you can discuss them on Facebook, as they have not warranted a complete purge from the platform just yet.
As of now, any activity that is organized on Facebook is subject to the platform’s broader rule application surrounding hate speech, fake news, and violence. All of these things will be targeted by the platform for removal.