Brent is a researcher and author who is focused on the intersection of science and culture. He has previously worked with and advised the CIA, NASA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the National Security Agency, the Department of Energy, and the White House.
British tabloid The Sun on Thursday published a cache of confidential internal Facebook documents that it claims reveal that the social media company was aware of QAnon conspiracy theories on its platform for months before the parodist and Nazi conspiracy theory were thrust into the spotlight by President Donald Trump in the lead-up to the U.S. midterm elections.
The revelations come just days after a report on BuzzFeed News that said QAnon founder Alex Jones and his supporters had been actively spreading conspiracy theories on Facebook for several months before the president took up their cause and made the topic a key part of his political narrative for the midterm elections.
According to The Sun, the Facebook documents show that the company’s researchers knew there was a disturbing trend emerging about three months before US elections in November. They found that users were sharing particularly unnerving content that included claims that then-U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions was listening in on calls between President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle, the Clinton Foundation was overseeing a pedophile ring and that the Queen of England was following American President Donald Trump’s Twitter account.
A spokesperson for Facebook told CNN Business: “While we don’t tolerate fake news on Facebook, we do recognize that people share content that isn’t immediately immediately aligned with what we see, and we have dedicated staff to surface and report questionable content. Our teams evaluate each item on its merits, taking into account a range of signals to determine the most appropriate action to take.
The spokesperson added that “while we may never completely stop people from sharing content that isn’t aligned with our editorial policies, we do make it clear when content is false and where it can be found.”