Facebook has announced that it will begin banning groups that openly support QAnon, the baseless conspiracy theory that paints US President Donald Trump as a secret warrior against an alleged child-trafficking ring run by celebrities and "deep state" government officials.
No more QAnon
The social media company said on October 6 that it would remove Facebook pages, groups, and Instagram accounts for representing QAnon, even if they do not promote violence, according to BBC.
Facebook said that it would consider various factors to decide if a group meets its criteria for a ban. The criteria will include its name, the biography or the "about" section of the page, and discussions within the page, group, or Instagram account.
Also, mentions of QAnon in a group focused on a different subject won't necessarily lead to a ban, according to Facebook. Administrators of banned groups will have their personal accounts disabled too.
Around two months ago, Facebook announced that it would stop promoting the group and its adherents, although the enforcement of their statement was spotty. The company said that it would only remove QAnon groups if they promote violence, but now that is no longer the case.
Facebook said that it started to enforce the policy on October 6 but cautioned that it would take time, and they will continue in the coming days and weeks, as reported by The Guardian.
Conspiracy theories online
The QAnon theories has spread out across numerous secret Facebook groups, Twitter accounts, and even YouTube videos in recent years. QAnon has been linked to real-world violence such as criminal reports of kidnapping and dangerous claims that the coronavirus is a hoax.
However, the conspiracy theory has also seeped into mainstream politics, as several Republicans running for Congress this year are QAnon-friendly.
By the time social media companies, like Facebook, began enforcing policies against QAnon, critics said it was too late.
Reddit, which began banning QAnon groups in 2018, was ahead of the other platforms, and to date, it has largely avoided having any notable QAnon presence on its platform, according to NBC News.
Facebook said in a blog post that they had seen several issues that led to the update. They have removed QAnon content that celebrates and supports violence, and they have seen other QAnon content tied to different forms of real-world harm, including recent claims that the wildfires at the west cost were started by certain groups, which diverted the attention of local officials from protecting the public and fighting the fires.
On October 6, Citigroup Inc. reportedly fired a manager in its technology department after an investigation found that he operated a prominent website dedicated to QAnon.
According to Bloomberg, Jason Gelinas had been placed on paid leave after he was identified on September 10 by a fact-checking site as the operator of the website QMap.pub and its associated mobile apps.
In a statement, Citi confirmed that Jason Gelinas is no longer with the company, and they added that their employees are required to abide by its code of conduct. This includes disclosing and obtaining permission for outside business activity.