NEWS13 January 2021

Twitter suspends QAnon conspiracy theory accounts

News North America Technology

US – Social network Twitter has suspended 70,000 accounts sharing content about the QAnon conspiracy theory following last week’s unrest at the US Capitol.

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Twitter began permanently suspending thousands of accounts linked to QAnon content on Friday afternoon, and has removed 70,000 so far, the company said.

In a blog on its website yesterday ( 12th January), Twitter said: “We will take strong enforcement action on behavior that has the potential to lead to offline harm. Given the violent events in Washington, DC, and increased risk of harm, we began permanently suspending thousands of accounts that were primarily dedicated to sharing QAnon content on Friday afternoon.”

Supporters of the wide-ranging baseless conspiracy theory were among the Trump-supporting rioters that breached the US Capitol building on 6th January.

On Friday, Twitter permanently suspended Trump from its platform after deciding that the language of two of the president’s tweets in the aftermath of the unrest violated the company’s ‘glorification of violence’ policy.

Twitter will also no longer allow tweets that have been labelled for violating its civic integrity policy to be replied, liked or retweeted. However, users are still able to share the content via the ‘quote tweet’ function. 

On Monday, Facebook said it was removing content containing the phrase ‘stop the steal’ from Facebook and Instagram. It follows the removal of a Stop the Steal Facebook group in November.

The company’s Guy Rosen, vice-president of integrity, and Monika Bickert, vice-president of global policy management, said in a blog post: “With continued attempts to organise events against the outcome of the US presidential election that can lead to violence, and use of the term by those involved in Wednesday’s violence in DC, we’re taking this additional step in the lead up to the inauguration.”

Facebook did not share a timescale for enforcement of the new step but said it had removed a “significant” number of posts. 

UK health secretary Matt Hancock has said social media companies could face greater regulation in the wake of Trump’s removal, as the companies were making “editorial decisions”.