Facebook announced Aug. 19 it was “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.”