The social media platform Facebook stated that as of 6th October all accounts linked to the QAnon conspiracy theory movement would be removed from Facebook pages, groups, advertisements and Instagram accounts.
QAnon is a far-right conspiracy theory that believes that a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles, consisting of political figures, celebrities and billionaires, is running a global paedophilic ring and plotting against the President, who is planning to make a stand against the secret group.
Many of QAnon’s conspiracy theories are inspired by the Protocols of the Elders of Zion forgery, a hoax document. Several followers also support theories which draw inspiration from the antisemitic blood libel, claiming that these “elites” drink the blood of abused children to acquire power.
A search engine known as Qresear.ch provides tools to explore posts on 8chan/8kun, QAnon’s former and current ‘host’ platform, comprised of around 14.5 million associated data sources. The term “Jews” when searched generated over 86,000 retrievable antisemitic posts.
The largest Facebook group dedicated to QAnon had approximately 200,000 members before it was banned in mid-August. The movement gained traction amongst parenting groups through the “#SaveTheChildren” hashtag that was harnessed to recruit and organise concerned users. In June this year, Twitter took similar action and limited features for around 150,000 accounts with links to QAnon.
In a recent statement, Facebook claimed that staff had begun removing inappropriate content and deleting the pages responsible. Restrictions have been placed on over 1,950 Facebook groups and more than 10,000 Instagram accounts. With a Dangerous Organisations Operations team to enforce the introduced regulations, the platform has said that it will actively detect offensive content or disinformation rather than simply relying upon the reports of other users.
However, it was emphasised that “this will take time and will continue in the coming days and weeks” with traffic to mainstream social media sites increasing during the coronavirus pandemic.