Twitter has removed more than 7,000 accounts linked to the “QAnon” movement over abuse and harassment concerns, saying on Tuesday it will limit the spread of conspiracy theories by its supporters.
Members of the informal, pro-Donald Trump group believe — with no credible evidence — that the United States has been ruled for decades by a criminal organization involving people they describe as the Satan-worshiping global elite, including Hollywood stars and the “deep state”.
The right-wing group is also convinced of a secret plot against Trump, and its members have targeted his political opponents on social media with harassment.
“We’ve been clear that we will take strong enforcement action on behavior that has the potential to lead to offline harm,” Twitter said.
“In line with this approach, this week we are taking further action on so-called ‘QAnon’ activity across the service,” it added.
“We will permanently suspend accounts Tweeting about these topics that we know are engaged in violations of our multi-account policy, coordinating abuse around individual victims, or are attempting to evade a previous suspension.” A spokesperson said that the social media giant had decided to act because QAnon followers were causing increasing harm.
The FBI has identified QAnon as a potential domestic terrorism threat, according to US media.
Twitter won’t be the only network to take a harder stance against QAnon. Facebook plans to escalate its own enforcement against its adherents, Kate Conger reports at the New York Times. She also offers a good concise description of what QAnon is, for those still unaware:
Facebook is preparing to take similar steps to limit the reach of QAnon content on its platform, said two Facebook employees with knowledge of the plans, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The company has been coordinating with Twitter and other social media companies and plans to make and announcement next month, the employees said. Facebook declined to comment.
The QAnon theories stem from an anonymous person or group of people who use the name “Q” and claim to have access to government secrets that reveal a plot against President Trump and his supporters. That supposedly classified information was initially posted on message boards before spreading to mainstream internet platforms and has led to significant online harassment as well as physical violence.