Facebook revealed its new “Dangerous Individuals and Organizations” policy to crack down on groups the platform said are “tied to violence.” It was the latest of many revisions in Facebook policies in recent weeks, all seemingly connected to the election.
“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,” Facebook reported in an August 19 blog. Facebook declared that it had “removed over 790 groups, 100 Pages and 1,500 ads tied to QAnon.” In targeting “militia organizations and those encouraging riots, including some who may identify as Antifa,” Facebook has “initially removed over 980 groups, 520 Pages and 160 ads.”
The blog, “An Update to How We Address Movements and Organizations Tied to Violence,” explained that Facebook already removes “content calling for or advocating violence” and bans organizations that “proclaim a violent mission.” This new crackdown, however, targets “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.”
Facebook’s “Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy” was pitched as a rule change that would “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.”
Facebook included a list of defined tactics it will use — “some effective immediately, and others coming soon” — to enforce its policies. Enforcement action will range from “Remove From Facebook” to “Reduce Ranking in News Feed” and even “Reviewing Related Hashtags on Instagram.”
There is a level of nuance to this crackdown, however:
“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.”
Even so, Facebook made crystal clear that it will “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.” The nature of veiled language, is as of yet undefined.
In what was laid out as a challenge to insurgent groups, Facebook declared that its team is ready to take on the adaptive nature of internet dissidents:
“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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