QAnon superspreaders remain active on Facebook even after the company banned the conspiracy movement from its platform two months ago. This emerges from a report published on Friday.
The report, which identified people who acted as the super spreaders of the QAnon conspiracy theory, found that videos and other content posted by the accounts continued to generate likes, comments, and approvals.
"Even after the ban, personal Facebook profiles – many with a large fan base – continue to discuss and promote the conspiracy on the platform," said the report, which was published by the think tank of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and the non-partisan news rating organization NewsGuard has been published. The super spreaders are "a key link in the chain of conspiracies".
QAnon, a sweeping conspiracy theory falsely claiming that a satanic cabal rules the world, began in 2017. It gained its largest audience during the pandemic.
One of the superspreaders was Larry Cook, an anti-vaccination activist who, according to the report, began sharing QAnon conspiracies earlier this year. In the month after the ban, Mr Cook continued to produce and share videos of QAnon statements for newcomers, claiming the government operated secret detention centers. Although Mr Cook was banned from Facebook in mid-November, he still has an account on Instagram that belongs to Facebook.
Other accounts that remained active on Facebook were those run by yoga and wellness coaches sharing QAnon content, such as false claims linking the Covid-19 vaccines to a major government conspiracy .
"Since August we have removed over 1,700 pages and 5,600 groups related to QAnon and disabled the profiles with which they were executed," said Sarah Pollack, spokeswoman for Facebook. She said the company also directed people who searched for QAnon to credible resources like the Global Network on Extremism and Technology.
The report, which examined QAnon's growth on Facebook since the beginning of the pandemic, found that the movement had become embedded in the fabric of the social network and proved impossible to remove entirely.
The recent international spread of QAnon continues, the report said. Three of the 10 most active communities that publish QAnon content on Facebook were German-speaking groups. Fifteen languages were represented in the posts by QAnon followers on Facebook.
For example, an international superspreader uploaded a video by an American QAnon believer that was narrated in Spanish. The video has been viewed more than 786,000 times since April.
Another Superspreader account linked to a Brazilian citizen uploaded videos that have been viewed tens of thousands of times. Another video mistakenly linked Hollywood stars Sandra Bullock and Ellen DeGeneres to QAnon. It has been viewed over 130,000 times since July.