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Commentary: How Facebook fails to fight QAnon

With over a dozen Congressional candidates expressing support for QAnon, its growing collection of misguided and often hateful content poses an emerging threat to our democracy... The group poses a significant threat, not only through potential violence, but also through the spreading of disinformation and degrading of democratic discourse.

This threat is fueled and accelerated by Facebook... As Charles Warzel observed recently in The New York Times, “QAnon’s rise is the direct result of a world in which media and politics are distorted by the dizzying scale of social networks, by their lack of adequate content moderation, and by the gaming of algorithms and hashtags. While the social media platforms didn’t create QAnon, they created the conditions for it to thrive.”... QAnon's growth on Facebook has been facilitated by the company’s 2017 decision to include group posts in users’ main feeds... [which has been used by QAnon] to expand their influence... Beyond content posted by users, Facebook also promotes the growth of QAnon by selling advertisements on its site to adherents... Facebook recognizes the threat posed by QAnon and has begun to ban some of its groups and pages... Last week, a Facebook spokeswomen offered this assurance: “we have teams assessing our policies against QAnon and are currently exploring additional actions we can take.” While the company has taken action on the basis of inauthentic behavior and violations of community standards, Facebook still refuses to commit to taking down all of QAnon’s provably false political content.

... Facebook should follow Twitter’s example. On July 21, Twitter announced it was banning over 7,000 accounts in connection with the QAnon conspiracy theory for coordinated amplification of fake news and conspiracy theories. Twitter said, "We've been clear that we will take strong enforcement action on behavior that has the potential to lead to offline harm. In line with this approach, this week we are taking further action on so-called 'QAnon' activity across the service."