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Facebook to use internal detection method to remove all QAnon accounts

These Facebook enforcement specialists identify and detect content internally, without waiting for leads gathered and reported by users. This is a substantive change.

Mia Cathell The Post Millennial
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Facebook has moved to ban all QAnon accounts "even if they contain no violent content" from its platforms, an escalation over the site's previous policy update terminating "offline anarchist groups that support violent acts amidst protests."

In August, Facebook announced an initial expansion of the social media platform's policy towards violent networks in the United States, titled, "An Update to How We Address Movements and Organizations Tied to Violence."

"Today we are taking action against Facebook Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts tied to offline anarchist groups that support violent acts amidst protests, US-based militia organizations and QAnon," Facebook administration wrote at the time in a press release.

In relation to riot instigators and insurgents "including some who may identify as Antifa," Facebook reported that over 980 groups, 520 Pages, and 160 ads were eliminated and over 1,400 hashtags related to these groups and organizations on Instagram were restricted.

Facebook officials already routinely remove content inciting violence and ban organizations and individuals who proclaim a violent mission under the site's Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy.

The policy extension has led to the clampdown of accounts related to the QAnon conspiracy theory, which reportedly resulted in the termination of more than 1,500 pages and groups within the first month.

The enforcement that started Tuesday will "bring to parity what we’ve been doing on other pieces of policy with regard to militarized social movements," a Facebook spokesperson told NBC News. The representative then explained that the company is "not going after individual posts," but whole accounts that spread the conspiracy theory with connections to acts of violence.

"Starting today, we will remove Facebook Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts for representing QAnon. We’re starting to enforce this updated policy today and are removing content accordingly, but this work will take time and will continue in the coming days and weeks," Facebook wrote in a newly-added preface to the original statement. "Our Dangerous Organizations Operations team will continue to enforce this policy and proactively detect content for removal instead of relying on user reports."

These Facebook enforcement specialists identify and detect content internally, without waiting for leads gathered and reported by users. This is a substantive change from the previous method of monitoring content.

Over 6,500 pages and groups tied to more than 300 militarized social movements have been prohibited to date, but "we believe these efforts need to be strengthened when addressing QAnon," the letter continued, citing "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."

"Additionally, QAnon messaging changes very quickly and we see networks of supporters build an audience with one message and then quickly pivot to another," Facebook admins went on. "We aim to combat this more effectively with this update that strengthens and expands our enforcement against the conspiracy theory movement."

Facebook emphasized that the website began redirecting users to "credible child safety resources" upon searches for certain child safety hashtags like #SaveTheChildren last week. "[W]e continue to work with external experts to address QAnon supporters using the issue of child safety to recruit and organize."

"We expect renewed attempts to evade our detection, both in behavior and content shared on our platform, so we will continue to study the impact of our efforts and be ready to update our policy and enforcement as necessary," Facebook signed off.

A quick search revealed that plenty of Antifa pages on Facebook still remain at the time of publication. In August, The Post Millennial's editor-at-large Andy Ngo prompted Facebook to purge the most disruptive agitators for civil unrest across the nation.

"I hope it starts with closing these groups & many others," Ngo tweeted, screenshotting a handful of Antifa accounts mobilized on Facebook that survived untouched.

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