what the social network informed about the QAnon conspiratorial movement

By Damien Leloup and Gregor Brandy

Published on November 26, 2021 at 8:00 p.m. – Updated on November 26, 2021 at 10:30 p.m.

This is only an isolated experiment, but its conclusions already say a lot. 1uh July 2019, a Facebook employee sends his colleagues a detailed message how a test profile of an American conservative user, created for the occasion days earlier, was quickly recommended increasingly polarizing accounts.

A week after the creation of the profile, the algorithm thus suggests that he follow accounts promoting QAnon, this very malleable conspiracy theory which would like Donald Trump to constitute the last rampart against an evil cabal of Satanists and pedophiles, made up in particular of figures progressive.

“Even though I started out following only a few verified, higher-quality conservative pages, within three weeks the newsfeed on this test account was down to a steady stream of low-quality content. , misleading and polarizing”writes the engineer in conclusion.

In the United States, QAnon is one of the thorniest problems that Facebook has faced in recent years. If this movement was born as a joke on anonymous and unmoderated forums, it was on the main American social network that it took off, before being banned there in the fall of 2020. Since then, Facebook has claimed that he deleted a total of 3,900 pages, 11,300 groups, 640 events, 50,300 profiles and 32,500 QAnon-related Instagram accounts. “We also refer people looking for QAnon-related content to credible resources and information”to explain World the American group.

But before the company decided to ban it, the movement had grown exponentially on the social network, in particular through groups bringing together millions of users. In the opinion of all the experts, the social network was much too slow to react, just like some of its competitors.

Internally, Facebook’s engineers and security specialists were however aware of this phenomenon, as shown by multiple documents from the “Facebook Files”, these internal files copied by ex-employee Frances Haugen and transmitted to the World and to several media outlets by an employee of the US Congress. Thanks to the gigantic amounts of data at their disposal, Facebook employees have been able to carry out, on several occasions, sociological studies of a magnitude, of a precision that made it possible for any social scientist to dream.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers Facebook: Frances Haugen, a whistleblower with a very simplified approach

Clear profiles

What do they conclude? First, that QAnon activists fall into four broad categories, and their profiles “corresponding to the findings of observers who closely follow online conspiracy theories”confirm at World Travis View, researcher on these questions and co-host of the reference podcast “QAnon Anonymous”.

You have 71.49% of this article left to read. The following is for subscribers only.

Leave a Comment