Facebook is Cracking Down on Conspiracies
You might remember back in January (which feels like both yesterday and forever ago, if you ask us) when Facebook came under fire for refusing to ban political ads that contained lies. Facebook has been walking a careful line when it comes to controlling the content on their site, much to the anger of many of their users. Facebook has even allowed advertisers to specifically market to users with pro-Nazi views … yikes. They’ve taken baby steps to fix things, but their action leaves a lot to be desired. QAnon (a far right conspiracy theory group) has run rampant on the platform, until now. Facebook has taken one of their boldest steps yet by banning all QAnon related accounts from their platforms (including Instagram).
So what is QAnon?
According to BBC News, “QAnon is a conspiracy theory that says President Trump is waging a war against elite Satan-worshipping pedophiles.” Okay. Definitely sounds like something that shouldn’t bombard your timeline while you’re innocently scrolling on social media. Twitter banned all links and content from the group back in July, which affected 140,000 accounts. They also removed 7,000 QAnon accounts that were breaking Twitter guidelines.
Good for Twitter. How is Facebook cracking down? Apart from banning all QAnon related accounts and groups, they are removing any post that specifically uses phrases or symbols associated with the movement. Any fundraiser that is looking to raise money for QAnon related causes will be immediately removed. And as a final blow, if users post things that are pro QAnon without breaking Facebook guidelines, their posts will still be sent to the very bottom of the algorithm, and the account or page will never pop up as suggested content, cutting off QAnon’s ability to outreach and organize.
Is this a good step? Yes. Banning the accounts is going to make a big difference. Is it enough? Probably not … QAnon has proved before that it will find ways to sneak into our feeds without our knowledge. Do you remember the #SaveOurChildren hashtag that went viral on Facebook and Instagram this summer? Yeah. That originated with false claims from QAnon. They started that hashtag.
Check Your Facts
Facebook has to continue to step up and root out misinformation at its source. From controlling political conspiracy theories to climate change misinformation, Facebook has only built a foundation. We hope to see them do more. Always double check and research everything you read on social media. A great, nonpartisan website for fact checking is snopes.com. Be careful out there, folks, and don't believe everything your uncle shares on Facebook.