Facebook said it has removed 790 groups, 100 pages and 1,500 ads connected to the far right-wing conspiracy theory QAnon as the social media giant targets movements and organizations that are tied to violence.
The U.S. tech company said Wednesday the removals were made under updates to its Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy to include groups and movements that have demonstrated “significant risks to public safety” but that did not reach its criteria to be banned as a dangerous organization.
Under the expanded policy, Facebook also restricted more than 1,950 groups and 440 pages on Facebook and more than 10,000 accounts on Instagram, its wildly popular photo-based social media platform, linked to QAnon. These groups, pages and accounts may be removed as Facebook reviews their content against its updated policy, Facebook said.
“We have seen growing movements that, while not directly organizing violence, have celebrated violent acts, shown that they have weapons and suggest they will use them or have individual followers with patterns of violent behavior,” Facebook said in a statement.
Last week, the Anti-Defamation League warned that QAnon on Facebook could cause real-world violence, and documented instances of serious crimes including murder and kidnapping having been carried out by adherents to the conspiracy.
Born on the Internet and popular with some supporters of the president, QAnon claims that the world elites maintain a “Satanic child-murdering sex cult,” and that President Donald Trump will eventually bring them to justice, the ADL said on its website.
Asked Wednesday at the White House about QAnon’s growing number of followers, Trump told reporters he was unfamiliar with the movement.
“I don’t know, really, anything about it other than they do, supposedly, like me,” Trump said.
The move by Facebook follows Twitter last month announcing it would take action to limit and block accounts associated with the conspiracy, stating it had already removed more than 7,000 such accounts.
Facebook said Wednesday it also removed 980 groups, 520 pages and 160 ads from Facebook while restricting more than 1,400 hashtags associated with militia organizations and groups that encourage rioting, including Antifa.
“We will continue to review content and accounts against all of our content policies in an effort to keep people safe,” Facebook said. “We will remove content from these movements that violate any of our policies, including those against fake accounts, harassment, hate speech and/or inciting violence.”