An Update to How We Address Movements and Organizations Tied to Violence

Update on October 27, 2020 at 6:19PM PT:

In August, we expanded our Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy to address militarized social movements and violence-inducing conspiracy networks, such as QAnon. Since then, we’ve identified over 600 militarized social movements, removing about 2,400 Pages, 14,200 Groups and about 1,300 Instagram accounts they maintained, and in addition, we’ve removed about 1,700 Pages, 5,600 Groups and about 18,700 Instagram accounts representing QAnon. 

The number of identified militarized social movements reflects a range of offline groups including long-standing organizations, recently rebranded groups, and smaller, newly established organizations. And the numbers of removals reflect differences in how Facebook and Instagram are used. For example, there were fewer Facebook Groups tied to QAnon than Instagram accounts, but these groups often had more members compared to the Instagram accounts which had fewer followers.

We are continuing to strengthen our enforcement by identifying additional militarized social movements, and removing more Groups, Pages and Instagram accounts tied to QAnon. We’ll continue consulting experts to inform our enforcement strategy and identifying and removing content accordingly.

Update on October 21, 2020 at 10:00AM PT:

An Update on Our Enforcement Against QAnon

Starting today, when someone searches for terms related to QAnon on Facebook and Instagram, we will redirect them to credible resources from the Global Network on Extremism and Technology (GNET), the academic research network of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism. This is the latest expansion of our Redirect Initiative to help combat violent extremism and will direct people to resources that can help inform them of the realities of QAnon and its ties to violence and real world harm.

As we continue to study the impact of our enforcement against QAnon, we’ll partner with GNET to assess the impact of this Redirect Initiative, and we’ll continue to reassess the list of terms that, when searched for on our platform, should direct people to these resources.

Update on October 6, 2020 at 2:00PM PT:

On August 19, we announced a set of measures designed to disrupt the ability of QAnon and Militarized Social Movements to operate and organize on our platform. In the first month, we removed over 1,500 Pages and Groups for QAnon containing discussions of potential violence and over 6,500 Pages and Groups tied to more than 300 Militarized Social Movements. But we believe these efforts need to be strengthened when addressing QAnon.

Starting today, we will remove any Facebook Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts representing QAnon, even if they contain no violent content. This is an update from the initial policy in August that removed Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts associated with QAnon when they discussed potential violence while imposing a series of restrictions to limit the reach of other Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts associated with the movement. Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts that represent an identified Militarized Social Movement are already prohibited. And we will continue to disable the profiles of admins who manage Pages and Groups removed for violating this policy, as we began doing in August.

We are starting to enforce this updated policy today and are removing content accordingly, but this work will take time and need to continue in the coming days and weeks. Our Dangerous Organizations Operations team will continue to enforce this policy and proactively detect content for removal instead of relying on user reports. These are specialists who study and respond to new evolutions in violating content from this movement and their internal detection has provided better leads in identifying new evolutions in violating content than sifting through user reports.

We’ve been vigilant in enforcing our policy and studying its impact on the platform but we’ve seen several issues that led to today’s update. For example, while we’ve removed QAnon content that celebrates and supports violence, we’ve seen other QAnon content tied to different forms of real world harm, including recent claims that the west coast wildfires were started by certain groups, which diverted attention of local officials from fighting the fires and protecting the public. Additionally, QAnon messaging changes very quickly and we see networks of supporters build an audience with one message and then quickly pivot to another. We aim to combat this more effectively with this update that strengthens and expands our enforcement against the conspiracy theory movement. 

This is not the first update to this policy – we began directing people to credible child safety resources when they search for certain child safety hashtags last week – and we continue to work with external experts to address QAnon supporters using the issue of child safety to recruit and organize. We expect renewed attempts to evade our detection, both in behavior and content shared on our platform, so we will continue to study the impact of our efforts and be ready to update our policy and enforcement as necessary.

Update on September 30, 2020 at 4:10PM PT:

Today we’re sharing a few updates on our enforcement against militarized social movements and QAnon:

On September 16, we started down-ranking content in the Pages and Groups that have been restricted but not removed. Now, people who are members of Groups that have been restricted and follow Pages that have been restricted, will see content from these Groups and Pages further down in their News Feed.

As of yesterday, we are also prohibiting anyone on our platform from running ads that praise, support or represent militarized social movements and QAnon. 

We are taking steps to address evidence that QAnon adherents are increasingly using the issue of child safety and hashtags like #savethechildren to recruit and organize. Starting today, we will direct people to credible child safety resources when they search for certain child safety hashtags. In addition, content about QAnon and child safety is eligible for fact checking through our third-party fact-checking program. Content that is debunked will be reduced in News Feed and filtered from Explore and hashtags on Instagram, will receive a label (so that people who see it, try to share it or already have, will see more context), and it will be rejected as an ad.

Originally published on August 19, 2020 at 12:00PM PT:

Today we are taking action against Facebook Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts tied to offline anarchist groups that support violent acts amidst protests, US-based militia organizations and QAnon. We already remove content calling for or advocating violence and we ban organizations and individuals that proclaim a violent mission. However, 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. So today we are expanding our Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy to address organizations and movements that have demonstrated significant risks to public safety but do not meet the rigorous criteria to be designated as a dangerous organization and banned from having any presence on our platform. While we will allow people to post content that supports these movements and groups, so long as they do not otherwise violate our content policies, we will restrict their ability to organize on our platform. 

Under this policy expansion, we will impose restrictions to limit the spread of content from Facebook Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts. We will also remove Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts where we identify discussions of potential violence, including when they use veiled language and symbols particular to the movement to do so. 

We will take the following actions – some effective immediately, and others coming soon:

  • Remove From Facebook: Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts associated with these movements and organizations will be removed when they discuss potential violence. We will continue studying specific terminology and symbolism used by supporters to identify the language used by these groups and movements indicating violence and take action accordingly.
  • Limit Recommendations: Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts associated with these movements that are not removed will not be eligible to be recommended to people when we suggest Groups you may want to join or Pages and Instagram accounts you may want to follow. 
  • Reduce Ranking in News Feed: In the near future, content from these Pages and Groups and will also be ranked lower in News Feed, meaning people who already follow these Pages and are members of these Groups will be less likely to see this content in their News Feed. 
  • Reduce in Search: Hashtags and titles of Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts restricted on our platform related to these movements and organizations will be limited in Search: they will not be suggested through our Search Typeahead function and will be ranked lower in Search results. 
  • Reviewing Related Hashtags on Instagram: We have temporarily removed the Related Hashtags feature on Instagram, which allows people to find hashtags similar to those they are interacting with. We are working on stronger protections for people using this feature and will continue to evaluate how best to re-introduce it.
  • Prohibit Use of Ads, Commerce Surfaces and Monetization Tools: Facebook Pages related to these movements will be prohibited from running ads or selling products using Marketplace and Shop. In the near future, we’ll extend this to prohibit anyone from running ads praising, supporting or representing these movements. 
  • Prohibit Fundraising: We will prohibit nonprofits we identify as representing or seeking to support these movements, organizations and groups from using our fundraising tools. We will also prohibit personal fundraisers praising, supporting or representing these organizations and movements.

As a result of some of the actions we’ve already taken, we’ve removed over 790 groups, 100 Pages and 1,500 ads tied to QAnon from Facebook, blocked over 300 hashtags across Facebook and Instagram, and additionally imposed restrictions on over 1,950 Groups and 440 Pages on Facebook and over 10,000 accounts on Instagram. These numbers reflect differences in how Facebook and Instagram are used, with fewer Groups on Facebook with higher membership rates and a greater number of Instagram accounts with fewer followers comparably. Those Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts that have been restricted are still subject to removal as our team continues to review their content against our updated policy, as will others we identify subsequently. For militia organizations and those encouraging riots, including some who may identify as Antifa, we’ve initially removed over 980 groups, 520 Pages and 160 ads from Facebook. We’ve also restricted over 1,400 hashtags related to these groups and organizations on Instagram.

Today’s update focuses on our Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy but we will continue to review content and accounts against all of our content policies in an effort to keep people safe. 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. Misinformation that does not put people at risk of imminent violence or physical harm but is rated false by third-party fact-checkers will be reduced in News Feed so fewer people see it. And any non-state actor or group that qualifies as a dangerous individual or organization will be banned from our platform. Our teams will also study trends in attempts to skirt our enforcement so we can adapt. These movements and groups evolve quickly, and our teams will follow them closely and consult with outside experts so we can continue to enforce our policies against them.



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