Spencer Sunshine, August 21, 2020
On Wednesday a number of anarchist Facebook accounts, some of which were associated with the antifascist movement, were removed without warning. These included It’s Going Down — a widely followed news and media platform publishing original content and reprinted analyses about “anarchist, anti-fascist, autonomous anti-capitalist and anti-colonial movements” — and the longstanding anarchist group CrimethInc, which describes itself as “a decentralized network pledged to anonymous collective action.” The removal of these anarchist accounts was part of a general purge, which also included many far right accounts, including those associated with paramilitaries and conspiracy theories that have inspired violence.
In a vaguely worded statement, Facebook said it was removing “accounts tied to offline anarchist groups that support violent acts amidst protests, US-based militia organizations and QAnon.” The purge is part of a new policy change that targets what Facebook describes as “growing movements that, while not directly organizing violence, have celebrated violent acts, shown that they have weapons and suggest they will use them, or have individual followers with patterns of violent behavior.” Facebook states the action will include those “that have demonstrated significant risks to public safety but do not meet the rigorous criteria to be designated as a dangerous organization.”
Facebook said it removed almost 800 groups and 100 pages connected to QAnon, a popular far right conspiracy theory that has been linked to many acts of violence, including murder, arson and kidnapping. Additionally, “For militia organizations and those encouraging riots, including some who may identify as Antifa,” almost 1,000 groups and over 500 pages were removed. A larger number of accounts and hashtags in all three categories also had restrictions placed on them.