QAnon got kicked off Facebook: Are their Twitter accounts next?
QAnon has been around for years, but up until recently it was something you could scrunch your brows at and say, “not to today” to. This has left most people unaware of exactly what the group is or does, but having a vague notion of conspiracy theory.
However, the group has gone from fringe theorists we could all safely write off and ignore, to being considered a potential domestic terrorist threat. Recently Facebook has taken actions against the group because of this.
So, let’s go ahead and walk through who the heck QAnon is, why Facebook has banned a large portion of their content, and whether Twitter will step up & do the same thing soon.
Who are they?
QAnon is a conspiracy theorist group comprised of extremists who politically identify with the far right. Their beliefs (though they have many) center around the conspiracy that an anonymous person going by the name “Q” is posting secret codes to the website 4chan. The codes are believed to be information about a huge change that will happen under Trump’s presidency.
But wait, there’s more. They also believe there are evil organizations of people in the government who are trying to tear down Trump and his administration.
A security researcher named Mark Burnett has analyzed the supposed “codes” on 4chan and is confident they’re actual gibberish with no secret meaning.
While it’s fine for a group of people to believe whatever wild thing they want, it becomes a problem when it leads to violence against real people. Last year a mafia boss was murdered in New York by someone tied to QAnon, and one person who identified as a member of the group threatened to murder former vice-president Joe Biden back in April – they were arrested.
These incidents have led the FBI to warn that the group could potentially be considered a domestic terrorism threat.
As of late, with so many people feeling frustrated with the world, isolated & lonely because of lockdowns, and overall very discontent QAnon has ramped up their online presence in order to add to their numbers. In a way, it isn’t unlike some kind of digital cult.
Facebook takes action
Since QAnon is no longer a silly group of fringe theorists, Facebook (whose terms have had a hard time keeping up with the rapidly changing online environment) has taken action against QAnon content on their site.
So far, it’s been reported that almost 800 groups, 100 pages, and 1,500 advertisements relating to the online group have been fully removed. On top of that, restrictions were placed on almost 500 other pages and nearly 2,000 groups. Instagram, which is also owned by Facebook, has taken action against more than 10,000 accounts.
Facebook has said more removals are possible as the restricted accounts are more carefully reviewed & other accounts are identified. The accounts are being terminated and/or restricted based on Facebook’s policies, which users agree to by using the site.
Is Twitter next?
Twitter is no stranger to kicking controversial figures off their website, deleting tweets that don’t comply with their policies, and attaching notices of misinformation. For example, Twitter has banned the notorious loud-mouthed conspiracy theorist Alex Jones from their platform, and even attached notices of misinformation to some of President Trump’s tweets.
This begs the question of whether or not Twitter is, or intends to, take action against the rising group QAnon. One would likely expect them to, given their track record, and if the group is inciting violence in any way, that is most definitely a violation of their terms.
For now, we’ll have to wait and see, but the ball is in Twitter’s court.