Facebook announced plans Wednesday to crack down on QAnon supporters on its site, making the platform the latest social-media giant to attempt to stop the online spread of the pro-Trump conspiracy theory.
The company plans to delete 790 Facebook groups and 100 pages devoted to spreading QAnon, while also taking steps to make it harder for QAnon supporters to spread their message on the platform. Facebook has also blocked more than 300 hashtags used by QAnon supporters on Facebook and Instagram, as well as adding new restrictions on nearly 2,000 Facebook groups and more than 10,000 Instagram accounts.
The announcement comes a month after Twitter announced plans to delete 7,000 QAnon accounts and limit the reach of 150,000 others.
As part of the crackdown, QAnon groups won’t be eligible in Facebook’s recommendation algorithm, and will be less likely to appear in the Facebook newsfeed and search results.
QAnon, a conspiracy theory that started in October 2017 with a series of anonymous “clues” from an anonymous figure calling themselves “Q,” imagines a world where Donald Trump is engaged in a shadowy war against a cabal of pedophiles in the global elite and the Democratic Party.
Supporters of QAnon have flourished on Facebook, spreading out across a long array of Facebook groups, many of them private. In May, an investigation by The Guardian found that some of the largest QAnon groups had more than 150,000 members.
Despite its bizarre claims and origins, the conspiracy theory has gained traction, with QAnon believers winning Republican congressional nominations and receiving invites to the Trump White House and presidential retweets. But the conspiracy theory has also inspired a string of violent incidents, including two murders and an attempt to burn down a Washington pizzeria while customers were inside. The FBI reportedly considers QAnon a potential domestic terror threat.