Twitter says it has suspended more than 70,000 accounts associated with the far right QAnon conspiracy theory following last week’s U.S. Capitol riot. The move comes after a mob of pro-Trump loyalists tried to violently storm the Capitol Building.
In another move to tamp down on conspiracy theories, Facebook also said it had removed content with the “Stop the Steal” phrase “to stop misinformation and content that could incite further violence during these next few weeks,” according to a Monday blog post from Facebook executives Guy Rosen and Monika Bickert.
The content purge comes after both Twitter and Facebook suspended President Donald Trump from their platforms, with Twitter citing “the risk of further incitement of violence.” Mr. Trump is accused of helping to incite the deadly riot, which is linked to five deaths and dozens of arrests.
Given the events last week, Twitter said it is taking action against online behavior “that has the potential to lead to offline harm.” In many cases, a single individual operated numerous QAnon-linked accounts, driving up the total number of affected accounts, the company said in a blog post.
The QAnon conspiracy theory is centered on the baseless belief that Trump is waging a secret campaign against “deep state” enemies and a child sex trafficking ring run by satanic pedophiles and cannibals. Twitter has previously tried to crack down on QAnon, removing more than 7,000 accounts in July.
“These accounts were engaged in sharing harmful QAnon-associated content at scale and were primarily dedicated to the propagation of this conspiracy theory across the service,” Twitter said.
Facebook said it was prompted to act due to “continued attempts to organize events against the outcome of the U.S. presidential election that can lead to violence” ahead of President-Elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20.
Twitter’s sweeping purge of QAnon accounts, which began Friday, is part of a wider crackdown that also includes its decision to ban Mr. Trump from the service over worries about further incitement to violence. The suspensions mean some Twitter users will lose followers, in some cases by the thousands, the company said.
Twitter said it’s also stepping up enforcement measures and starting Tuesday it will limit the spread of posts that violate its civic integrity policy by preventing anyone from replying to, liking or retweeting them. The policy prohibits attempts to manipulate elections and spread misleading info about their results, with repeated violations resulting in permanent suspension.
Twitter blocks 70,000 QAnon accounts after Capitol riot The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ CBS News.