Twitter Purges QAnon Conspiracy Accounts

Platform has banned 7,000 accounts and will restrict many others

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QAnon conspiracy theories have spurred violent real-world acts, such as Pizzagate. Photo Illustration: Kacy Burdette; Sources: Twitter, Unsplash
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Twitter has begun purging content related to QAnon, a set of pro-Trump conspiracy theories that maintain, among other things, that a mysterious entity called the “deep state” is actively working against the president.

A spokesperson for the social media site said accounts that propagate QAnon theories have engaged in behavior connected to well-documented offline harm.

In a post on its safety account Tuesday night, Twitter said it would permanently suspend accounts in violation of its “multi-account policy, coordinating abuse around individual victims, or are attempting to evade a previous suspension.”

Additionally, Twitter said it will no longer include QAnon-related content or affiliated accounts in Trends, will try to limit results in search, and will “block URLs associated with QAnon.” The blocked links policy, which applies to “spammy” or “malicious” content, is not new, but it is being newly applied to QAnon content, a Twitter spokesperson said.

As a result, Twitter has banned 7,000 accounts over the past several weeks and will limit the circulation of others, the spokesperson said. NBC, which first reported the news, said the restrictions are expected to affect 150,000 accounts.

QAnon has been called a “deranged conspiracy cult,” a “new religion” and completely “baseless.” The FBI has called QAnon a domestic terrorism threat. However, that hasn’t stopped a slew of Republican congressional candidates from embracing QAnon. President Donald Trump has also repeatedly retweeted QAnon accounts—which could be directly affected by Twitter’s decision.

In May, Facebook removed eight different QAnon-related disinformation networks for violating its policy around “coordinated inauthentic behavior ahead of the 2020 election in the U.S.” And in 2018, Reddit banned QAnon communities for inciting violence, posting personal information and harassing users.

While QAnon conspiracy communities have been pushed to the fringes of the internet, particularly the message board 8kun (formerly 8chan), it still commonly rears its head on mainstream social media platforms. For instance, the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, a subset of QAnon, recently reemerged on TikTok, and a bogus Wayfair-related child trafficking theory, also related to QAnon, swept across social media this month.

The Twitter spokesperson said the decision to purge QAnon accounts came after the platform began receiving increased reports of coordinated harassment recently, adding that Twitter has worked with outside experts to track QAnon activity on and off its platform.

@ScottNover Scott Nover is a platforms reporter at Adweek, covering social media companies and their influence.