International Policy Digest

Photo illustration by John Lyman
Tech /09 Oct 2020
10.09.20

Ban All QAnon Content on Facebook

A powerful global cabal, made up of elite politicians and celebrities, controls our entire world. These same people also run an international child sex-trafficking ring. President Donald Trump is the only one who can expose and stop these corrupt Satanic worshippers. Sounds crazy, right? Well, it’s not crazy to the loyal followers of QAnon – an unfounded, Internet-based conspiracy theory movement that is growing in popularity as it spreads across major social media platforms including Facebook.

Facebook recognizes QAnon is an issue and has begun taking steps to curtail its activity. So far, Facebook announced that it will ban groups and pages that openly support QAnon. Facebook is also restricting QAnon-related groups and pages, prohibiting ads in support of the movement, as well as fact-checking and labeling debunked content. Despite these new efforts, users are tweaking their posts to evade detection of Facebook algorithms, such as spelling “Q” as “Cue.” Other users are masking their content in unsuspicious groups, like yoga or health and wellness. Facebook must do more to combat the spread of QAnon content throughout its platform. Facebook must adjust its algorithms to find undetected QAnon content. Facebook must remove any and all QAnon content.

Thwart violent extremism. The FBI warns that extremist conspiracy theorists, like the followers of QAnon, can quickly morph into domestic terrorism threats. This is not just a threat; it is a reality. These online beliefs have already influenced offline attacks. Anthony Comello murdered Francesco Cali, the Gambino crime family’s underboss, because he believed he was a prominent member of the “deep state” thanks to QAnon. Matthew Wright, in the name of QAnon, blocked the bridge at the Hoover Dam with an armored truck and a rifle while demanding the release of a classified report.

Follow what’s worked. Reddit was the first mainstream social media site on which QAnon flourished. Reddit is also the first to ban it. Reddit banned multiple QAnon subreddits as well as its moderators for violating website rules, such as inciting violence or harassing others through doxing. Reddit continues to monitor and immediately ban any copycat subreddits. This is a very effective tactic: the only QAnon-related subreddits left on the site are those against the movement.

Stop the global spread. Once a U.S.-centered conspiracy theory, QAnon has gone international. QAnon is evolving from its child sex-trafficking cabal into a myriad of anti-establishment and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. One such theory alleges Bill Gates’ connections to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is more than just an online phenomenon. Throughout Europe, an abundance of QAnon posters can be spotted at anti-COVID-19 lockdown protests. As a platform used by billions around the world, Facebook has a duty to combat this movement.

Some may argue that QAnon content does not merit a ban according to Facebook’s policies blocking hate speech, incitements of violence, or manipulated media. It is true that all QAnon content may not technically go against these policies based on what is written, but that is missing the point. Even seemingly harmless QAnon content online can be dangerous in reality. New followers can be gained, or existing followers may further radicalize. Any and all QAnon content inherently goes against Facebook’s policies.

Virtual QAnon content inspires real violence in the real world, and it is spreading globally. Banning such content is effective and crucial in curbing the QAnon movement. Facebook must take a strong stance. Facebook must ban any and all QAnon content. Facebook must make its platform a safer place to interact so that the real world is a safer place to be.