Twitter bans 7,000 QAnon accounts in conspiracy group crackdown

22 Jul 2020605 Views

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Twitter is taking several sweeping actions to limit the reach of conspiracy theory movement QAnon.

Twitter announced its intention to take action against activity relating to QAnon, a far-right conspiracy theory with a following known for spreading disinformation online.

In a statement, the social media platform said it will permanently suspend accounts tweeting about QAnon topics that are engaged in violations of its multi-account policy, coordinating abuse around individuals, or attempting to evade a previous suspension.

According to NBC News, this action will affect approximately 150,000 accounts and has already led to the banning of more than 7,000 QAnon accounts in the last few weeks.

The company’s statement on Twitter said: “We’ve been clear that we will take strong enforcement action on behavior [sic] that has the potential to lead to offline harm. In line with this approach, this week we are taking further action on so-called ‘QAnon’ activity across the service.”

As part of the actions, which are set to be rolled out this week, Twitter said it will no longer serve content and accounts associated with QAnon in its trends or recommendations, block links associated with QAnon from being shared on the social media site and avoid highlighting this activity in search and conversations.

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The company also said it will continue to review this activity and update its rules and enforcement approach if necessary. “As we work at scale to protect the public conversation in the face of evolving threats, we’ll continue to lead with transparency and offer more context on our efforts.”

Among other so-called deep-state conspiracies, QAnon centres on baseless claims that a group of politicians and celebrities are engaged in child sex abuse and exploitation. In recent weeks, QAnon followers have targeted model and cookbook author Chrissy Teigen. In response to Twitter’s updates, she tweeted that users of the platform “don’t have a ‘right’ to coordinate attacks and make death threats”.

Platforms taking action

The latest move from Twitter follows a number of other recent instances where social media platforms have started to proactively crack down on policy violations, instigating user and group bans.

At the end of June, Reddit banned the largest subreddit on its platform dedicated to US president Donald Trump, as part of wider efforts to tighten its rules on hate speech. The company said the subreddit had antagonised other communities and its moderators had refused to meet Reddit’s “most basic expectations”.

Meanwhile, Facebook banned more than 300 groups promoting a violent US-based anti-government network across Facebook and Instagram at the beginning of July.

Another purge from Twitter in early June saw the removal of more than 32,000 accounts following claims the accounts were linked with state-backed disinformation campaigns in China, Russia and Turkey.

Jenny is the Deputy Editor of Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com