Facebook users who were not searching for information on QAnon were redirected to an extensive primer on the conspiracy theory due to a “glitch” in a system designed to fight it, according to Facebook.
The company tweeted on Wednesday that its “Redirect Initiative” — which is supposed to direct Facebook users that appear to be on the verge of tumbling down a QAnon-sized rabbit hole to the the Global Network on Extremism and Technology (GNET) — was triggering on pages it shouldn’t have been. According to Business Insider, Facebook deactivated the malfunctioning tool just two hours after launch because it kept activating on pages that were unrelated to spreading the news of a fictional international pedophile ring (or pages merely adjacent to the conspiracy, such as that of Fox News host Todd Starne).
When we first launched the Redirect Initiative for QAnon today there was a glitch that caused people to see information about this topic when they searched for unrelated terms. We’ve paused this Redirect while we fix the issue. https://t.co/YJb4E46BJf
— Facebook Newsroom (@fbnewsroom) October 21, 2020
The GNET page in question warns that QAnon is “militant and anti-establishment ideology rooted in a quasi-apocalyptic desire to destroy the existing, ‘corrupt’ world order and usher in a promised golden age,” “reminiscent of numerous violent, anti-government, white nationalist, and neo-Nazi extremist organisations across the globe.” (True! One could also call it the future of the GOP.)
QAnon is a sprawling, far-right ideology which alleges that the world is secretly run by a cabal of Satanic “elites” who get high on adrenochrome extracted from the blood of tortured children. Its origins derive from an unknown person or persons using the alias “Q”, who posts anonymously to imageboards claiming to be a high-level military or intelligence official in the Trump administration tasked with fighting said cabal. Many of its diehard adherents are vitriolically anti-Semitic and/or racist, and all are convinced the pedo-Illuminati is run by Democratic politicians and Hollywood. Yeah.
It seems unlikely anyone accidentally landing on GNET’s page would be drawn into QAnon as a direct result. The “glitch,” however, could be used as fodder for the already-converted to argue to more mainstream conservatives that Facebook is trying to cover up something real.
Facebook implemented the redirects as part of a broader effort to purge all pages, groups, and Instagram accounts of QAnon content that began earlier this month — after a series of damning media reports showed that millions of Facebook users had joined groups or pages devoted to discussing QAnon. In response, QAnon has tried to rebrand itself by hijacking #SaveTheChildren, a hashtag started by a legitimate anti-sex trafficking organisation which now predominantly serves as a way to launder QAnon propaganda.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently told employees that he does not believe site will “continue to adopt a lot more policies that are restricting of a lot more content,” after the election according to BuzzFeed. Zuckerberg added that current efforts to crackdown on hate speech and misinformation are not due to an underlying shift in Facebook’s philosophy, but due to “an increased risk of violence and unrest, especially around the elections, and an increased risk of physical harm, especially around the time when we expect covid vaccines to be approved over the coming months.”