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article imageOp-Ed: Good move — Facebook bans QAnon and QAnon-themed pages

By Paul Wallis     Oct 6, 2020 in Internet
Seattle - QAnon, the gigantic disinformation bot which spreads conspiracy theories as fast as the pandemic, is to be banned on Facebook. As the unwilling default venue for the QAnon plague, the social media giant has apparently had enough.
The Facebook move comes after a huge amount of somewhat selective criticism. Facebook is a global social media entity with legal obligations to users. QAnon is a sourceless, unaccountable entity with no obligations to anyone which spreads right wing propaganda and a lot of hate. It’s generally loathed by many Facebook users.
Facebook has described QAnon as “dangerous”. Given the level of hate and implied violence in some posts, that may be a massive understatement. While only about 7% of Americans actually support QAnon, the sheer noise level of the cultish community makes it seem like many more.
The bot-like nature of QAnon is easy to see in practice. The only difference is that real people, (some of them do actually exist) also spread the joy. So it becomes an “augmented bot”. The same messages are spread and disseminated worldwide.
This is highly scripted disinformation. QAnon is well-known for addressing the same themes, the same subjects, and common right wing themes like Pizzagate, anti-Semitism, etc. The rest of the living dead of other ancient political clichés are also well represented.
The QAnon mythos
QAnon claims to be representing anonymous people in the administration fighting the Deep State. Vast amounts of official-looking documents are posted. Trump is supposed to be the Masked Avenger, fighting the bad guys.
• Exactly where this infantile crud comes in contact with reality is debatable. QAnon’s litany of non-achievements is pretty consistent:
• Years of conspiracy theories. Anything which can be attributed to anyone is a conspiracy theory.
• Nothing done by their boy in the White House about any of the conspiracies. This undercuts the whole basic idea of QAnon, but, meh… Nobody’s noticed that.
• Everyone is a bad guy except approved people. This includes Democrats, Trump critics, and any political or social enemies.
• Nobody takes any responsibility or legal liability for any statements made by QAnon. Apparently the heroics are limited in demands for personal commitment.
QAnon is also famous for its total lack of criticism of the administration and its dependents. Not one word. It’s about as unbalanced as you can get.
Is QAnon legally liable? Good question.
The questionable legality of QAnon’s operations is another issue. Any individual or media outlet publishing this irredeemable omni-tripe would be sued into genetic oblivion.
The simple fact is that anyone ever associated with QAnon may not be out of the legal woods. It would be so easy to do a test case on a post, for example, and establish liability for defamation on QAnon supporters.
Defamation means damaging someone’s reputation, business, or doing other legally enforceable damage through publicity. In that sense, it’s a lot of legal high explosives if someone does sue for a QAnon post.
(Expressing an opinion isn’t a form of defamation. Making a statement accusing someone of illegal actions, however, is defamation. QAnon is a virtual black hole of these types of allegations.)
Facebook makes the right move
From the above, you’ll notice that Facebook’s ban also has the effect of distancing the site from QAnon’s legal and other issues. This also protects the site from the monumental levels of disgust that QAnon generates.
Users will be reassured that the fallacy fountains have been turned off. The aesthetics of QAnon leave a lot to be desired. Turning off the hate will also be highly appreciated.
I’ve said this before – Facebook isn’t a law enforcement agency. As a US company, it also has to consider First Amendment rights, user agreements and similar issues. It must have taken a while to plow through the legalities to achieve this decision. Whatever it took that time wasn’t wasted.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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