QAnon just got banned on Facebook after three years of wild conspiracy theories. But it's far too little and far too late.
QAnon is being banned.
After three years of wild — and almost comical — conspiracy theories, Facebook has finally announced that they’re banning accounts tied to the far-right group on their social media platform. The ban also includes Instagram accounts tied to the group, as well.
While this seems like a noble effort, it’s far too little and far too late.
Back in August 2020, Facebook announced that they’d cracked down on multiple accounts that were spreading QAnon conspiracy theories. According to the social media giant, the reason they started cracking down on accounts (and groups) tied to the far-right stalwart was because they were celebrating an uptick in violent behavior.
Unfortunately, Facebook’s crackdown was slow and inconsistent — just as they had been in the past. In the most prominent example of this slow inconsistency, misinformation about a COVID-19 vaccine — started, it appears, by QAnon itself — was allowed to spread, unchecked, on both Facebook and Instagram platforms.
So Facebook’s current attempts to contain the QAnon virus is window-dressing, at best. In an update to its original post from August, Facebook wrote on October 6th:
Starting today, we will remove any Facebook Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts representing QAnon, even if they contain no violent content. This is an update from the initial policy in August that removed Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts associated with QAnon when they discussed potential violence while imposing a series of restrictions to limit the reach of other Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts associated with the movement.
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.
But as the video below demonstrates, Facebook banning “hundreds” of profiles when the actual number of subscribers to the theory is in the thousands, if not millions, is laughable at best.
So far, the only social media platform that has been successful in containing the group is LinkedIn. Twitter, like Facebook and Instagram, has also struggled with successfully containing the group.
This group started as little more than a troll group on a Filipino pig farm, and unfortunately has become a genuine domestic threat. In an intelligence bulletin released in May 2019, the FBI said that QAnon was a “fringe political group” tied to extremism and that they were keeping a close watch on their movements.
Despite this clear problem, the group has been legitimized by Vice President Pence, and Donald Trump himself has said that he likes them because they support him. At least six politicians that have embraced the baseless theory are currently running for office and enjoying support, further legitimizing their cause. And while 72% of Democrats say that there’s nothing about their beliefs that’s true at all, the vast majority of Republicans, according to one survey, say their beliefs are “partly or mostly true.”
So Facebook’s laughable attempts to contain QAnon are far too little and far too late. The genie is out of the bottle, and short of chucking them all into the sun, this is a problem that doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon.