Instagram and its parent company, Facebook, are implementing new measures to stifle the spread of the far-right conspiracy theory movement QAnon on their platforms, according to new a policy released Wednesday.
The social media giants said they will de-rank and limit algorithmic recommendations for QAnon pages, groups and accounts; remove those that discuss potential violence; and ban QAnon ads and fundraising efforts altogether.
Facebook said it has already removed more than 790 groups, 100 pages and 1,500 ads tied to QAnon; blocked more than 300 hashtags across Facebook and Instagram; and imposed restrictions on more than 1,950 groups and 440 pages on Facebook and more than 10,000 accounts on Instagram.
“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 said in its announcement. “While we will allow people to post content that supports these movements and groups, so long as they do not otherwise violate our content policies, we will restrict their ability to organize on our platform.”
QAnon is a sprawling online extremist movement that baselessly claims President Donald Trump is waging a secret war against a “deep state” cabal of Satanist elites running an international child sex trafficking ring. Its adherents are accused of carrying out numerous acts of violence, including a deadly shooting.
In recent months, QAnon has wormed its way from the fringes into the political mainstream as a growing threat to democracy that’s hellbent on tainting the political narrative with disinformation. At least 76 current or former congressional candidates support the movement. Its scale is still unknown, but QAnon groups and pages have thrived on Facebook with millions of members and followers, NBC News reported earlier this month.
The new policy comes on the heels of similar crackdowns by Twitter and TikTok, and marks a major reversal: As a HuffPost investigation revealed last year, Instagram in particular has long been quietly and aggressively expanding QAnon’s reach by algorithmically amplifying its content.
Facebook said it will “continue studying specific terminology and symbolism” used by QAnon supporters to identify the language indicating violence.