Facebook approved 200 ‘dangerous’ QAnon ads

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Facebook pushed ads related to QAnon conspiracy theory into its user feeds up to 2.4 million times this spring and summer, capitalizing on the movement and helping it grow even as employees investigated its potential for violence.The social media giant first removed a network of fake accounts seeking to spread QAnon’s beliefs in April this year, and ultimately banned all QAnon Instagram groups, pages and accounts from its services last week.

However, between those two points, Facebook’s online ad records show that it has approved at least 204 ads using the hashtags, symbols or slogans of the movement, which has been a key incubator for coronavirus denial, as well as violent attacks. and conspiracies.

The ads, viewed up to 2.4 million times, ranged from online merchants looking to capitalize on the phenomenon with branded t-shirts, to die-hard believers organizing walks, to an addiction counselor and Lithuanian hypnotherapist who described the coronavirus as a satanic plot to control the world. Some of the ads were bought by contenders vying in the United States, while an advertiser selling QAnon-branded t-shirts, who managed to briefly bypass Facebook’s advertiser verification checks, paid for their promotion. in rubles.

The actual number of ads and views is likely higher because Le Daily TelegraphFacebook’s investigation only included those using clear terms associated with QAnon, and was unable to catch any who might have escaped Facebook’s security checks by falsely classifying themselves as non-political. Still, the numbers shed new light on QAnon’s rapid spread to millions of potential people on Facebook’s services, powered by sharing in private groups and the company’s own recommendation algorithms.

A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment beyond highlighting the succession of ever-tighter restrictions it has imposed on the movement since August. He added that the company made a mistake in approving ads paid for in rubles.

QAnon is a vague and blunt movement devoted to the theory that a large number of celebrities and politicians belong to a secret Satanist cabal that kidnaps children in order to abuse them and consume their blood in the form of a psychoactive drug.

Supporters believe US President Donald Trump is engaged in a covert war against this conspiracy and eagerly await an impending moment of national transformation in which his political opponents will be arrested or executed en masse.

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