Face­book re­moves con­spir­acy group posts

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Technology Intelligen­ce - By Hasan Chowd­hury

FACE­BOOK has taken down hun­dreds of ac­counts linked to con­spir­acy group QAnon in a wide­spread crack­down on move­ments “tied to vi­o­lence”.

The so­cial me­dia gi­ant re­moved 790 QAnon groups, in­clud­ing 100 pages and 1,500 ads on its core site. It also im­posed re­stric­tions on over 1,950 groups and 440 pages across Face­book and In­sta­gram.

QAnon be­liev­ers claim the world is run by a ca­bal of Satan-wor­ship­ping pae­dophiles who are plot­ting against pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump while op­er­at­ing a global child sex-traf­fick­ing ring. The base­less con­spir­acy the­ory emerged in a dark cor­ner of the internet but has re­cently crept into main­stream pol­i­tics.

Trump has retweeted QAnon-pro­mot­ing ac­counts and its fol­low­ers flock to his ral­lies wear­ing clothes and hats with QAnon sym­bols and slo­gans.

The FBI last year said in a re­port that QAnon was one of sev­eral move­ments that could drive “both groups and in­di­vid­ual ex­trem­ists to carry out crim­i­nal or vi­o­lent acts”.

“We have seen grow­ing move­ments that, while not di­rectly or­gan­is­ing vi­o­lence, have cel­e­brated vi­o­lent acts, shown that they have weapons and sug­gest they will use them, or have in­di­vid­ual fol­low­ers with pat­terns of vi­o­lent be­hav­iour,” Face­book said in a blog­post. Ear­lier this month, Face­book re­moved a QAnon group with 200,000 fol­low­ers, but its lat­est move against the group is part of a wider “pol­icy ex­pan­sion” to iden­tify and delete pages and other as­so­ci­ated con­tent with dis­cus­sions of “po­ten­tial vi­o­lence”.

Face­book said it will con­tinue “study­ing spe­cific ter­mi­nol­ogy and sym­bol­ism” used by sup­port­ers of groups like QAnon to work out when “veiled lan­guage” might be used.

Face­book’s crack­down on QAnon came just hours be­fore the pres­i­dent of­fered a de­fence of the group, claim­ing its fol­low­ers are “peo­ple who love our coun­try”.

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