Facebook Bans One of the Anti-Vaccine Movement's Biggest Groups for Violating QAnon Rules

Larry Cook, a prominent figure in anti-vaccine circles and the creator of the "Stop Mandatory Vaccination" group on Facebook, has had his Facebook and Twitter accounts suspended.

The Stop Mandatory Vaccination group, which had amassed more than 195,000 members on Facebook, has also been taken down.

In February, it emerged that the mother of a four-year-old boy who died of flu had opted not to use the Tamiflu medication that had been prescribed by a doctor, and was discussing natural "remedies" with members of the Stop Mandatory Vaccination group instead.

Facebook told Newsweek that the group was removed because it violated the social network's policy against QAnon. Facebook bans the group under its "Dangerous Individuals and Organizations" policy which it says will "address militarized social movements and violence-inducing conspiracy networks, such as QAnon."

The baseless conspiracy theory purports that a network of pedophile Satan-worshipping elites is operating throughout society, including in the "deep state" of U.S. government. It also places Donald Trump as a heroic figurehead of the movement, claiming he is working from within the government to root out and bring the cabal to justice.

Cook has been posting more frequently about QAnon in recent months, including a recent call to "shoot" what he referred to as "Antifa thugs."

Facebook started clamping down on QAnon in August. The site initially said it would remove Facebook pages and groups associated with QAnon "when they discussed potential violence," but took a stricter stance in October.

"Starting today, we will remove any Facebook Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts representing QAnon, even if they contain no violent content," it wrote in a blog post update on October 6.

"And we will continue to disable the profiles of admins who manage Pages and Groups removed for violating this policy, as we began doing in August."

Twitter hasn't yet responded to Newsweek's comment request, but Cook's former Twitter page, @stopvaccinating, now displays a message reading: "Account suspended. Twitter suspends accounts which violate the Twitter Rules."

Cook revealed the news of his account terminations on Parler, a social network that has become popular among right-wing personalities and conspiracy theorists.

"To recap, Today Facebook deleted my personal account, which shut down my Stop Mandatory Vaccination Page as well. Two hours later, Twitter suspended me," he wrote in a post on the site.

"This was a coordinated attack. What's their end goal? The enslavement and forced vaccination of every human on the planet. Rise up and fight, or be a slave."

In a separate post, Cook called for his followers to sign up to his newsletter, and to engage with him on other platforms, adding: "Thank you for the support. I put a huge—and I mean HUGE—amount of effort building my audience on Facebook. I lived on Facebook. When I learned about [QAnon], I got active on Twitter as well.

"But I knew this day would come—just as surely we know President Trump will also have his social media accounts shut down. I'm disappointed, but not surprised. Remember we are at war. This is Good vs Evil. Pray, and Pray Big every day."

In October, Facebook introduced a ban on ads that discourage people from getting vaccinated, but unpaid posts that serve the same purpose are still allowed on the site.

anti-vaxxer protesters boston massachusetts
Anti-vaccine activists hold signs in front of the Massachusetts State House on August 30, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. One of the internet's biggest anti-vaccine groups has just been taken down by Facebook. Scott Eisen/Getty Images