Yes, Facebook has banned Alexis Cossette-Trudel's Radio-Québec conspiracy network
Facebook bans content from Radio-Québec conspiracy network
Accurate (supported by evidence and facts; acceptable margin of error)
In an article dated October 7, Radio-Canada reports that Facebook had "banned the content of conspiracy network Radio-Québec". This information is accurate.
What is Radio-Québec?
Editor's note: To avoid contributing to disinformation, we have decided not to include links to the various pages of Radio-Québec of Mr. Alexis Cossette-Trudel and the QAnon network.
Hosted by Alexis Cossette-Trudel, a 47-year-old Montrealer, Radio-Québec is described as one of Quebec's most important conspiracy networks. Thanks to its personal Facebook page, Radio-Québec's Facebook page and its YouTube channel, which had 40,000, 77,000 and 120,000 subscribers respectively, as well as its videos based on false conclusions, the network has been able to extend its influence in Quebec and beyond Canada's borders. Alexis Cossette extended his influence by translating conspiracy theories into French, and by giving them relevance using often dubious references.
Since March 2020, Alexis Cossette has focused his messages on COVID-19. Despite the thousands of deaths due to COVID-19 in Quebec, Cossette believes that the pandemic is an exaggeration by governments. He regularly participates and speaks at anti-mask demonstrations. He has since become a key figure of the protest against COVID-19 health measures in Quebec.
Alexis-Cossette and the QAnon conspiracy network
Mr. Cossette is also quite close to the American-based conspiracy group QAnon. Since 2017 and the beginning of the QAnon movement, Alexis Cossette-Trudel's YouTube channel has been associated with the movement’s ideologies. It is believed that Alexis Cossette-Trudel's ties to this network are what earned him the status of persona non grata on Facebook and Instagram.
QAnon is a conspiracy movement of several million members. Its doctrine is based on the fact that American President Donald Trump is at war with a pedosatanic elite that controls the world. According to QAnon supporters, the pandemic is a means developed by Trump's opponents to undermine his presidency.
At the center of this movement is an individual named "Q", who claims to be a high-ranking member of the Trump administration. Since 2017, "Q" has been posting cryptic messages called "Q drops" on forums of the Internet’ underworld, which, when decoded by supporters, are said to give access to exclusive information about truths hidden by the media and politicians.
To get people to join the movement, QAnon hijacks already sensitive issues and causes. This is the case with Save The Children, an organization that has been advocating and protecting children's rights for more than a century. QAnon, based on its beliefs about world domination by pedophile groups, hijacked the name "Save The Children" in a campaign meant to spread conspiracy theories about Democratic Party members, including former vice president Joe Biden. In August 2020, Save The Children stated in a press release that it was not associated with this campaign.
The problem with such conspiracy groups and their activities is that they divert people from legitimate causes and when they attack the pandemic, they complicate the efforts of public health authorities to fight the virus.
Fighting QAnon on Internet platforms
The closure of Radio-Québec comes at a time when Facebook has decided to fight back against the activities of the QAnon network and any affiliated groups. The company explained in a press release that it will delete "all Facebook pages, groups and Instagram accounts representing QAnon, even if they do not contain any violent content". This decision came two months after the web giant announced a policy to "remove Instagram pages, groups and accounts associated with QAnon when they raise the possibility of violence, while imposing a series of restrictions to limit the scope of other content associated with the movement". The initial policy failed because of its uneven application.
Because of the real life actions of its members, the conspiracy movement is also considered a risk to national security, according to U.S. authorities, QAnon is now considered by Facebook to be a dangerous group, just as other terrorist groups.
With the new measures, Facebook announced on October 27th that it has been able to identify more than 600 militarized social movements, and deleted approximately 2,400 pages, 14,200 groups and about 1,300 Instagram accounts. In addition, the company says it deleted approximately 1,700 pages, 5,600 groups, and about 18,700 Instagram accounts representing QAnon. This means that the information reported by Radio-Canada about the suspension of Alexis Cossette-Trudel and Radio-Québec's accounts is accurate.
Facebook was not the only one to suspend Radio-Québec's accounts: YouTube and Vimeo also closed Radio-Québec's accounts for violating their disinformation policy on COVID-19. Mr. Cossette has now installed his program on the Russian social network VKontakte (VK) and other platforms.
From Quebec to France and the Francophonie?
QAnon has existed in France almost since the beginning of the movement in 2017-2018, but in a very timid way. However, with the arrival of COVID-19 and the videos of Alexis Cossette-Trudel, which are successful in the conspiracy spheres, the movement has accelerated both internationally and in France. This phenomenon is not surprising. As pointed out in a previous article, the uncertain situation of around the pandemic and the desire to find answers pushes people to look for information and solutions. However, when one is not sufficiently equipped to distinguish facts from disinformation, there is a risk of falling for conspiracy theories.
How can we protect ourselves from disinformation (and misinformation)?
No one is immune from the consumption and sharing of misinformation and disinformation. We must all take responsibility and fight against these growing scourges. With this in mind, we have created a simple and easy-to-remember guide, the FACTS Framework for Addressing Misinformation and Disinformation. You can find it on this page and share it.
Save The Children
Facebook bans content from Radio-Québec conspiracy network
November 06, 2020
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