Facebook is cracking down on the ‘save our children’ hashtag after it was used by supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory, the social network said on Friday.
‘Earlier this week, we stepped up how we enforce our rules against QAnon on pages, events, and groups,’ a spokesperson for Facebook told DailyMail.com.
‘Starting today, we’re limiting the distribution of the “save our children” hashtag given we’ve found that content tied to it is now associated with QAnon.’
‘When people search for it, they will now see the credible child safety resources.’
Facebook users can still enter the hashtag, but they will not be able to see aggregated results of posts incorporating the hashtag.
Earlier this month, Facebook announced that it was banning QAnon across its platforms, which includes its group pages as well as Instagram.
QAnon is the baseless conspiracy theory that paints President Donald Trump as a secret warrior against a supposed child-trafficking ring run by celebrities and ‘deep state’ government officials.
People march during a ‘Save the Children’ rally outside the Capitol building in St Paul, Minnesota, on August 22. Hundreds of rallies around the country, meant to decry human trafficking and pedophilia, are scheduled for today, some of which have been linked to social media accounts promoting the QAnon conspiracy
The theory holds that Trump will finally emerge victorious on a day of reckoning known as ‘The Storm’, when thousands of people said to belong to this pedophile ring, including Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and George Soros, will be arrested and executed.
Alphabet-owned YouTube has also banned QAnon, while Twitter has purged tens of thousands of QAnon-linked accounts.
Before banning QAnon in early October, Facebook launched an earlier crackdown on QAnon-linked groups that ‘discussed potential violence.’
QAnon followers circumvented the ban by using the ‘save our children’ hashtag.
For now, the restrictions will not apply to ‘save the children,’ which is also the name of a United Kingdom-based children’s charity that operates worldwide.
After the ‘save our children’ hashtag went viral this past summer, the Save the Children Federation released a statement seeking to put a distance between the charity and the QAnon-linked trend.
‘Our name in hashtag form has been experiencing unusually high volumes and causing confusion among our supporters and the general public,’ the organization wrote in August.
‘In the United States, Save the Children is the sole owner of the registered trademark “Save the Children.”
‘While people may choose to use our organization’s name as a hashtag to make their point on different issues, we are not affiliated or associated with any of these campaigns.’
Facebook on Friday announced that it was cracking down on the hashtag ‘save our children’ after it was used by QAnon supporters to circumvent an earlier ban on the conspiracy theory by the social network
The latest crackdown comes in response to the growing popularity of the fringe online movement.
Mentions of #SavetheChildren on Twitter began climbing in June and peaked in August when the hashtag was used more than 800,000 times during the first week of that month, according to an analysis by the media intelligence firm Zignal Labs conducted for The Associated Press.
The movement gained popularity as posts about QAnon spiked on Facebook and Instagram this year, prompting millions of likes, shares and comments on the platforms, a separate AP review of public social media posts found.
Some social media users have been introduced to QAnon through posts about child sex trafficking that use #SavetheChildren.
Facebook and Instagram tried to squelch those QAnon recruitment efforts last month by directing people who search for #SavetheChildren to the official website for the humanitarian organization.
But the connections among ‘Save the Children,’ QAnon, and Trump still permeate social media.
Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts regularly use #SavetheChildren to promote memes and conspiracy theories about Democrats.
One such Instagram post that was liked nearly 12,000 times includes pictures of Obama, his wife Michelle, former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
It asks: ‘How much would you pay-per-view to see the FBI raid their homes and take them out in handcuffs at 3 a.m.’
A video viewed more than 5,000 times on a QAnon account features images of Trump giving a thumbs up to the #SavetheChildren and photos of abused women, with dramatic music in the background.
WHAT IS QANON?
Origins: Q Anon started on fringe website 4chan, where a poster calling themselves Q left messages claiming to be a senior federal official and purporting to reveal a ‘deep state’ cabal intent on bringing down Donald Trump. Q grew out of the discredited Pizzagate conspiracy that top Democrats were involved in pedophilia and cannibalism from the basement of a Washington D.C. restaurant, but quickly picked up steam with ‘Q’ leaving ‘clues’ and claims that Trump was going to bring down the deep state. Whenever the conspiracies turn out to not be true, followers rationalize that the inaccuracies are part of Q’s larger plan.
Who is Q?: There may now be multiple people posing as Q on the anonymous 4chan boards
A QAnon believer blocked the bridge near Hoover Dam with a homemade armored tank in the name of the movement, and later pleaded guilty to terrorism
Hoover Dam: In June 2019, 32-year-old Matthew Wright, a QAnon supporter, blocked the bridge near Hoover Dam in Arizona with a homemade armored vehicle in a 90-minute stand-off. He pleaded guilty to terrorism charges and has written two letters to Donald Trump from jail, which include the sign-off, which has become the QAnon motto: “For where we go one, we go all.”
Michael Flynn: Trump’s former national security adviser became a martyr figure for QAnon believers after he took a plea deal from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, admitting he lied about his Russia contacts. QAnon conspiracy have spun Flynn pleading guilty into him being a persecuted victim of the deep state – and some even claim he is ‘Q.’
Many believers put three star emojis next to their Twitter handles. But the retired three-star general has denounced any connections to the group and pulled out of participating in an event after finding out it was hosted by a QAnon believer.
QAnon believers make former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn out to be a martyr after taking a plea deal with Robert Mueller
QAnon Political Candidates: Jo Rae Perkins, 64, won the Republican primary in Oregon in May to run for a Senate seat against incumbent Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley. “I stand with Q and the team,” she said when asked about her interest in the group. She insisted she goes to QAnon message boards as a “source of information” and claims media focuses too much on the group. Perkins won 49 per cent of the vote against three other Republicans.
Marjorie Taylor Greene came in first place in the Republican primary in a deep-red Georgia district, and will enter an August runoff. She has admitted to believing in several QAnon conspiracy theories.