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FACEBOOK INC

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FACTBOX-What is QAnon and how are social media sites taking action on it?

10/07/2020 | 11:32am EST

Oct 7 - Online marketplace Etsy Inc is removing all QAnon merchandise from its site, a spokeswoman told Reuters on Wednesday, the latest in a series of platform crackdowns on the unfounded and sprawling conspiracy theory.

WHAT IS QANON?

QAnon followers espouse an intertwined series of beliefs, based on anonymous Web postings from "Q," who claims to have insider knowledge of the Trump administration.

A core tenet of the conspiracy theory is that U.S. President Donald Trump is secretly fighting a cabal of child-sex predators that includes prominent Democrats, Hollywood elites and "deep state" allies.

QAnon, which borrows some elements from the bogus "pizzagate" theory about a pedophile ring run out of a Washington, D.C., restaurant, has become a "big tent" conspiracy theory encompassing misinformation about topics ranging from alien landings to vaccine safety.

Followers of QAnon say a so-called Great Awakening is coming to bring salvation.

HOW HAS IT SPREAD ONLINE?

The "Q" posts, which started in 2017 on the message board 4chan, are now posted on 8kun, a rebranded version of the shuttered web board 8chan.

QAnon has been amplified on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, the video streaming service of Alphabet Inc's Google.

Media investigations have shown that social media recommendation algorithms can drive people who show an interest in conspiracy theories toward more material.

A report by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) found that the number of users engaging in discussion of QAnon on Twitter and Facebook have surged this year, with membership of QAnon groups on Facebook growing by 120% in March.

Researchers say Russian government-supported organizations are playing a small but increasing role in amplifying the conspiracy theories.

QAnon backers helped organize real-life protests against child trafficking in August and were involved in a pro-police demonstration in Portland, Oregon.

QAnon also looks poised to gain a toehold in the U.S. House of Representatives, with at least one Republican candidate who espouses its beliefs on track to win in the Nov. 3 elections.

WHAT ARE SOCIAL PLATFORMS DOING ABOUT IT?

Twitter in July said it would stop recommending QAnon content and accounts in a crackdown it expected would affect about 150,000 accounts. It also said it would block QAnon URLs and permanently suspend QAnon accounts coordinating abuse or violating its rules.

Facebook Inc this week stepped up its earlier actions against QAnon by saying it would remove any Facebook pages, groups and Instagram accounts "representing" QAnon. In September, it also banned Facebook ads that praised or represented militarized social movements and QAnon.

A spokeswoman for the short-form video app TikTok said QAnon content "frequently contains disinformation and hate speech" and that it has blocked dozens of QAnon hashtags.

A Reddit spokeswoman told Reuters the site has removed QAnon communities that repeatedly violated its rules since 2018, when it took down forums such as r/greatawakening.

A YouTube spokeswoman said it has removed tens of thousands of Q-related videos and terminated hundreds of Q-related channels for violating its rules since updating its hate speech policy in June 2019.

YouTube also said it reduces its recommendations of certain QAnon videos that "could misinform users in harmful ways." It does not have a specific ban on monetizing QAnon content. ISD researchers found that about 20% of all QAnon-related Facebook posts contained YouTube links.

E-commerce site Etsy said it was removing all QAnon merchandise from its marketplace. A review of Amazon.com Inc and Ebay Inc showed sellers listing QAnon-branded items including books, face masks, T-shirts and hats.

(Compiled by Elizabeth Culliford, Joseph Menn and Ted Hesson Editing by Greg Mitchell and Matthew Lewis)


© Reuters 2020
Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
ALPHABET INC. -1.83% 1754.4 Delayed Quote.30.99%
AMAZON.COM, INC. -0.85% 3168.04 Delayed Quote.71.45%
EBAY INC. -1.47% 50.43 Delayed Quote.39.66%
ETSY, INC. 0.09% 160.7 Delayed Quote.262.75%
FACEBOOK INC -0.30% 276.97 Delayed Quote.34.94%
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Financials (USD)
Sales 2020 83 587 M - -
Net income 2020 26 870 M - -
Net cash 2020 63 906 M - -
P/E ratio 2020 29,7x
Yield 2020 -
Capitalization 789 B 789 B -
EV / Sales 2020 8,67x
EV / Sales 2021 6,80x
Nbr of Employees 56 653
Free-Float 83,8%
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Number of Analysts 51
Average target price 315,73 $
Last Close Price 276,97 $
Spread / Highest target 35,4%
Spread / Average Target 14,0%
Spread / Lowest Target -56,7%
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NameTitle
Mark Elliot Zuckerberg Chairman & Chief Executive Officer
Sheryl Kara Sandberg Chief Operating Officer & Director
David M. Wehner Chief Financial Officer
Michael Todd Schroepfer Chief Technology Officer
Atish Banerjea Chief Information Officer
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