QAnon followers are scrambling for a new digital home after Facebook issued a blanket ban on the movement’s pages on Tuesday, in what looks likely to be the most significant social media crackdown in the history of the pro-Trump conspiracy movement.
Faced with a wide-ranging purge, QAnon followers dreaming of the day Donald Trump orders the mass arrests of his opponents are faced with a choice: flee to another, more Trumpian, social network, or try to go underground on Facebook by disassociating their QAnon groups from the increasingly toxic QAnon brand.
Facebook was uniquely valuable to QAnon believers, according to Travis View, a QAnon researcher and co-host of the QAnon Anonymous podcast, because it offered a huge well of potential followers, as well as a “group” function for QAnon believers to radicalize one another.
For years on Facebook, QAnon followers were more or less free to talk about their bizarre beliefs, ranging from the theory that Donald Trump is engaged in a shadowy war against a cabal of Satanic pedophile-cannibals in the media and the Democratic Party to the conviction that Trump will soon order the mass arrests and executions of his foes.
“There were millions of aggregate followers across hundreds of Facebook QAnon groups,” View told The Daily Beast. “It was a huge place, a huge recruiting ground, even, for less tech-savvy QAnon followers.”
That changed Tuesday, when Facebook grouped QAnon into a policy that amounts to a blanket ban on postings from violent social groups. A number of QAnon pages had managed to survive an earlier, lighter crackdown in August that eliminated nearly 800 groups on Facebook and Instagram. But the Tuesday purge went much further, knocking out nearly all of the major QAnon Facebook groups. The new ban extended to non-English QAnon pages, too, including a Quebec