Facebook and its sister social media platform have banned the controversial group QAnon from its services. While sure to be slammed for this by civil liberties groups and QAnon supporters on the right, many more people will welcome this news.
The news comes as Facebook has been under mounting pressure to do something to quash the proliferation of fake news and hate speech on its service.
QAnon is an anonymously promoted (hence the “anon” in the name) conspiracy group which has taken a political stand against Democrats nod in Support of Donald Trump. The group was famously responsible for the false claim that Hillary Clinton was somehow behind an underage human trafficking ring out of a Washington DC pizza restaurant. That slander led to a violent attack.
Most recently, QAnon followers have been claiming that President Trump does not in fact have the Corona Virus. This is art of a sort of reverse conspiracy theory which holds that the President is only pretending to be sick so that he can conduct some sort of secret operations.
But QAnon has many other venues for the proliferation of its lies and slanders. And even if Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the like shut it down, there will always be plenty of others who will do the same thing under a different name. If a Rose by any other name would still smell as sweet, so too a skunk by any other name would still stink.
The company recently announced the establishment of a new committee which will review the content posted on its website. But it then acknowledged that the committee would not become active until after the November American elections.
Facebook states that it has already removed over 1,500 Pages and Groups for QAnon containing discussions of potential violence and over 6,500 Pages and Groups tied to more than 300 Militarized Social Movements. But now it is also going after advertisers too.
“Starting today, we will remove any Facebook Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts representing QAnon, even if they contain no violent content,” said Facebook in s statement.
“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.”
Many Facebook critics, however, will say that this could be an example of too little too late. Also, there is a myriad of ways for people to use the platform to spread lies and slanders.
Facebook acknowledges that the move will have only limited effect stating, “while we’ve removed QAnon content that celebrates and supports violence, we’ve seen other QAnon content tied to different forms of real world harm, including recent claims that the west coast wildfires were started by certain groups, which diverted attention of local officials from fighting the fires and protecting the public.”