Facebook Inc. has found that the QAnon community on its platform could have as many as 3 million members, according to an investigation that was reviewed today by NBC News.
The top 10 of the groups contain about 1 million members, according to people who spoke with NBC on the condition of anonymity. That number is closer to 3 million when all groups and pages are included.
On top of that, the internal investigation found that 185 ads had been bought and published on the platform, ads that were found to be “praising, supporting or representing” QAnon. The ads generated in the region of $12,000 for Facebook and had about 4 million impressions over the last 30 days.
As for what’s to be done about the community that has been called a far-right conspiracy theory-touting alliance, Facebook employees that spoke with NBC said they might be dealt with in a similar style to how the company has dealt with anti-vaccination groups. That is, the social network could reduce the visibility of groups and pages and to exclude them from advertising.
The rise of QAnon has said to be in large part a result of Facebook and its groups feature, something that is a cause for concern for the authorities. Last year the FBI said QAnon contains “conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists,” stating that there is potential not only to affect elections but also to harm people. The agency said it has found multiple cases of people referencing things such as “Pizzagate” and the “New World Order,” people who it believed could be dangerous.
Facebook has been active in removing certain groups. Last week, the company took down one QAnon group that contained about 200,000 members.
“Enforcing against QAnon on Facebook is not new: we consistently take action against accounts, Groups, and Pages tied to QAnon that break our rules,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “Just last week, we removed a large Group with QAnon affiliations for violating our content policies and removed a network of accounts for violating our policies against coordinated inauthentic behavior. We have teams assessing our policies against QAnon and are currently exploring additional actions we can take.”
Photo: Tony Webster/Flickr
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