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Facebook expands policy on violent political content, cleanses feeds

Facebook has been cleansing its platform of violent content posted and promoted by political groups that purportedly threaten violence. Since November last year, the company claims to have removed 3,400 Pages, 19,500 groups, 120 events, 25,300 Facebook user-profiles, 7500 Instagram accounts and 510 events related to militarised social movements and violence-inducing conspiracy networks, such as QAnon, it said in a blogpost on Wednesday.

Social-media platforms have been on overdrive to weed out QAnon content and content related to political organisations and actors that specifically advocate violence, in the wake of riots and the storming of the United States’ Capitol Building on January 6. In the following days,  Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube actively began taking down content related to QAnon, the anonymous conspiracy theory entity or ecosystem, and other (alleged) violent political groups.

The violence and storming of the US Capitol was promoted online on social media forums, where groups and individuals were known to be mobilising to gather in large numbers when the electoral college vote count was scheduled. Parler, Gab, Telegram and other alternative forums were also used to plan to storm the Capitol. Following the storming, Twitter permanently suspended Donald Trump while Reddit booted pro-Trump subreddits. Apple and Google booted Parler from their app stores, while Amazon pulled the plug on the social media app’s cloud hosting service.

Facebook says that it has expanded its Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy and will work with experts to constantly update its content regulation policies, strategies and operations. “These groups are constantly working to avoid our enforcement and we’ll continue to study how they evolve in order to keep people safe,” it said. As of January 12, 2021 it dentified 890 militarized social movements on its platform

“We continue to strengthen our enforcement by identifying additional militarized social movements, new terms associated with QAnon and how people attempt to skirt our detection, including focusing more on Facebook profiles used to organize and promote these movements and groups on our platform.” — Facebook

Cleansing Facebook news feeds

US Elections between August to November 30, 2020

  • 3,200 pages removed
  • 18,800 groups identified and removed
  • Deleted 23,300 Facebook user-profiles
  • 7,400 Instagram accounts removed

Total content removed between August 2020 and January 2021

  • 3,400 pages removed
  • 19,500 groups removed
  • Deleted 25,300 Facebook user-profiles
  • 7,500 Instagram accounts removed

QAnon-related content

  • 3,000 pages, 9,800 groups, 16,200 Facebook user-profiles and 25,000 Instagram accounts were removed between August and November 2020
  • 3,300 Pages, 10,500 groups, 510 events, 18,300 Facebook profiles and 27,300 Instagram accounts removed from January 12, 2021 onward

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