“NO CONSPIRACY THEORY/SCIENCE DENYING HERE!,” reads one California punk band’s Facebook page.

It continues: “Q freaks move along this page is NOT for you!”

This may seem like a bizarre disclaimer to find on a Facebook page — and certainly one belonging to a musical artist — but in this case there’s a very good reason for it.

This particular band’s Facebook page, as well as the personal profiles of its four members, have been removed by Facebook multiple times over the past few months.

Why is that happening?

Because the band’s name is Adrenochrome.

Unfortunately for Adrenochrome the band, adrenochrome the word is commonly referenced by QAnon followers. And, since October 2020, Facebook has banned QAnon from its platform.

Adrenochrome: The QAnon conspiracy

QAnon, as you likely know by now, is a group of right-wing conspiracy theorists who claim that former President Donald Trump is waging a secret war against a global cabal of Satanic child-trafficking, baby-eating pedophiles made up of Hollywood elites and members of the Democratic party. For the unaware, the “baby-eating” part comes from QAnon’s belief that these pedophiles are consuming the blood of children in order to extract adrenochrome, which acts as some sort of fountain of youth to maintain their good looks.

Needless to say, none of this is true.

Adrenochrome is a real chemical and there’s nothing nefarious about it. It’s simply a byproduct of adrenaline, and one absolutely does not need to harvest children to obtain it — it is readily available for purchase online. While it is not authorized for use by the FDA, some countries have approved its use to promote blood clotting.

This isn’t the first time that adrenochrome has been used in fictional scenarios. It’s mentioned in The Clockwork Orange and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, among other things. But QAnon seized upon it has elevated its status to a whole new level.

But while their name has gotten tangled up with QAnon lore, Adrenochrome the band has nothing to do with QAnon, as their social media presence so clearly spells out. Unfortunately, that has not stopped Facebook’s automated systems from think they do. 

Adrenochrome: The band

Adrenochrome is a four-piece “dark punk” band from Oakland, California.

“While brainstorming names, Alex, our bass player suggested Adrenochrome after an 80s goth song by the band Sisters of Mercy,” Adrenochrome vocalist Gina Marie told Mashable in an email. “Aside from being big fans of the song, we knew about the mythical drug from the movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

Adrenochrome the band...who have nothing to do with the QAnon conspiracy theory.

Adrenochrome the band…who have nothing to do with the QAnon conspiracy theory.

Image: Tash DeValois

Gina told me that the band decided on this name sometime in late 2017. At that time, not many people knew about QAnon. It began around the same time, in late October 2017, when an anonymous user calling themself “Q” started posting on the image board 4chan. The first mainstream news outlet coverage of QAnon that I saw was an article in Wired by Paris Martineau in December 2017.

The band tells me that they have received messages from QAnon believers over the years. Andres, the bassist, remembers a specific moment when a popular punk channel on YouTube uploaded their demo in 2019.

“We got a random comment from a woman,” he explained. “It was obvious to me that she was on a QAnon binge and stumbled on our video. I think part of the reason why the conspiracy is so pervasive was that the YouTube algorithm just keeps suggesting this shit to people who want to ‘do their own research’ and it eventually led them to us.”

“We started getting random messages and tags on our social media accounts,” Gina said. “The tags were from people who were clearly not our fans and the posts would consist of wild conspiracy theories.” 

“One time we got a message on Instagram from a pretty normal looking young person who asked us if we actually did adrenochrome,” explained Andres. “We laughed about it in private and then told them we railed lines of it at our shows or something to that extent.”

“One time we got a message on Instagram from a pretty normal looking young person who asked us if we actually did Adrenochrome,” explained Andres. “We laughed about it in private and then told them we railed lines of it at our shows or something to that extent.”

But then, in October 2020, right before the November presidential election, the band’s Instagram account, along with Andres personal Instagram account, was deleted from the platform.

“Then we realized we would be mistakenly lumped in with this dangerous group of people,” Gina said.

Weeks into the new year, a mob of Trump supporters that included many QAnon believers stormed the Capitol building in Washington, D.C.. Five people were killed, and social media platforms ramped up their previous efforts to stop QAnon misinformation from spreading even further. 

Facebook v. Adrenochrome

“The first time we were deleted [on Facebook] was on January 29th,” Adrenochrome vocalist Gina Marie said. “All 3 members of the band with FB accounts plus any pages we were linked to disappeared. Our band page was gone as well as a booking page…[we] use to promote events.” 

The band tells Mashable that it never experienced issues on any other online platforms, pointing to their Bandcamp page as an example. (Instagram is owned by Facebook.)

Facebook never gave them a reason why their pages and profile were deleted, according to Gina. Any attempt to dispute the decision prompted a message from Facebook letting the band know the decision to remove their accounts was irreversible. 

Along with the band’s Facebook presence, their personal photos and friends lists disappeared — which included thousands of people they had met on tour — without any recourse.

Finally, the band reached out to the nonprofit digital civil liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The organization was able to get the band’s accounts restored weeks later.

However, that wasn’t the end of it. The EFF had to step in two more times after Facebook’s systems took down the band’s account again in February and a third time in March.

A Facebook message received by Gina Marie, vocalist of Adrenochrome

A Facebook message received by Gina Marie, vocalist of Adrenochrome

Image: Gina marie / eff

Facebook told EFF in February that “these users were impacted by a false positive for harmful conspiracy theories.” According to Gina, that statement was the first time the band was given any explanation for why their accounts were removed. She also told me that Adrenochrome’s Instagram account and Andres’ personal Instagram account that were removed in October had never been reinstated.

In a statement provided to Mashable, Facebook said, “these accounts were mistakenly removed under our dangerous organizations and individuals policy.” This policy prohibits certain users and groups from participating on the social network. It specifically bans “Violence-Inducing Conspiracy Networks, such as QAnon” from Facebook’s platforms.

Facebook also told Mashable that “we’ve restored the accounts and added an extra layer of protection to them to minimize any future mistakes.”

Adrenochrome’s Instagram account, as well as Andres’ personal account, are now back online for the first time since October.

“While I appreciate Facebook’s efforts to stem the damage that its platform has proliferated with the sharing and harboring of QAnon groups, especially after its involvement with Cambridge Analytica, we feel like their answer to this crisis was rolled out very carelessly and months too late,” said Andres of Adrenochrome.

After all the issues Adrenochrome the band has faced over its QAnon-associated name, one might ask why don’t they just change it?

“We don’t want them to win,” said Andres.

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