Facebook is taking additional steps to curb militia movements and the QAnon conspiracy movement. The company will reject ads that “praise, support or represent militarized social movements,” including militia and anarchist groups and QAnon. It also links to “credible child safety resources” when people search for hashtags related to child safety, e.g. B. #savethechildren, which have been adopted by QAnon followers.
The new changes codify guidelines on which Facebook previously took steps. The update follows a crackdown on QAnon and other social movements celebrating violence in August, as well as criticism of Facebook̵
“Starting today, we’ll be directing people to credible child safety resources when they search for specific child safety hashtags,” said the company’s latest update. “Additionally, QAnon and child safety content can be verified through our third-party fact-checking program.” Facebook often fixes misinformation by providing links to more authoritative material – this applies to vaccine, COVID-19, and voting content. The effectiveness of this strategy is difficult to assess. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden recently criticized Facebook for labeling President Donald Trump’s posts with false information about votes and not removing them.
Anti-trafficking hashtags can provide a seemingly innocuous gateway to more bizarre QAnon beliefs, including the (false) claim that many celebrities and politicians worship cannibal pedophiles who worship Satan. Conspiracy theorists publish statistics that greatly increase the number of missing children, and some QAnon proponents have allegedly committed crimes such as kidnapping their own children or ramming the vehicles of people they believed were pedophiles. Some research suggests Facebook helped QAnon grow by mistakenly recommending conspiracy content.
In a separate attempt to enforce the integrity of the platform, Facebook also sued two companies that scraped site data for marketing purposes. The companies – BrandTotal Ltd. based in Israel and Unimania based in the US – used browser extensions to collect data such as gender, relationship status, and location of users. It’s behavior reminiscent of Cambridge Analytica, the consulting firm that plunged Facebook into a privacy scandal in 2018. The lawsuit is the latest in a series of complaints that Facebook has filed against companies that scrape data or sell fake commitments.