When Facebook announced earlier this month that it would crack down on QAnon conspiracy content, many online misinformation experts rolled their eyes. After all, it wasn’t the first time that the social media giant promised to deliver a sweeping change to its policies. However, according to a new report from Fast Company this week, the company may have actually taken significant steps to clean up the issue.
Fast Company writer Mark Sullivan sought to test Facebook’s new rules by creating a QAnon group of his own. It was immediately removed, and he was banned from creating groups “for the foreseeable future.” Similarly, when Sullivan attempted to search Facebook for other conspiracy groups, he came up surprisingly empty-handed.
However, as Sullivan points out, it’s not as if Facebook has pure intentions for fighting back against misinformation. Instead, the company merely wants to preserve its reputation among advertisers. And though removing misinformation is a good thing, it also puts Facebook on a slippery slope of deciding what is and is not free speech.
“Facebook’s main motivation for keeping its site upbeat and civil is for the sake of maintaining a good place to show ads,” Sullivan wrote. “The company will have to work harder and harder to do that — even if that means giving up its free speech ideals.”
As is often the case with Facebook, there’s no clean solution to the problems it’s facing. However, when those problems are of the company’s own making, it’s tough to feel bad for it.
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