Facebook has been busy. On the same day it announced a new commitment to tackling climate misinformation, it also seized the opportunity to share details of enforcement action it took against an anti-lockdown movement in Germany and to run a fact-checking campaign against the Wall Street Journal.
In a blog post, Facebook detailed enforcement against a network of accounts, pages and groups operated by individuals associated with the Querdenken movement in Germany. The Querdenken movement comprises those opposing vaccine and mask mandates, conspiracy theorists and anti-lockdown extremists. They’ve had a hand in the German protests against lockdowns and local intelligence officials have created a special definition category for the group: those involved in “actions that delegitimise the state, thereby threatening the constitution”.
What did the group do wrong?
The group has been accused of running coordinated social harm campaigns. These campaigns typically involve networks of primarily authentic users who organise to systematically violate Facebook’s policies by causing harm on or off its platform.
So what did Facebook do?
It removed a network of Facebook and Instagram accounts, pages and groups for engaging in coordinated efforts to repeatedly violate its Community Standards. Such violations included posting harmful health misinformation, hate speech and incitement to violence.
Facebook also blocked their domains from being shared on its platform.
“The people behind this activity used authentic and duplicate accounts to post and amplify violating content, primarily focused on promoting the conspiracy that the German government’s COVID-19 restrictions are part of a larger plan to strip citizens of their freedoms and basic rights,” Facebook explains.
“This activity appeared to run across multiple internet services and the broader internet and typically portrayed violence as the way to overturn the pandemic-related government measures limiting personal freedoms.
“Based on public reporting, this group engaged in physical violence against journalists, police and medical practitioners in Germany.”
Facebook said the network consistently violated its Community Standards. It said it repeatedly took action against their violating posts. But Facebook isn’t banning all Querdenken content. Instead, it said it is “continuing to monitor the situation” and will take action if it finds additional violations to prevent abuse on its platform and to protect people using its services.