On Tuesday night, Twitter announced that it was suspending accounts peddling the QAnon conspiracy theory that violated the multi-account rule or are coordinating abuse against individuals.
The company also said it would remove the topic from its recommended section, and would block QAnon-related URLs from being shared on the platform.
Twitter told TPM that the crackdown has resulted in the permanent suspension of 7,000 accounts, with the expectation that it will eventually result in reduced visibility for 150,000 accounts.
“We’ve been clear that we will take strong enforcement action on behavior that has the potential to lead to offline harm,” Twitter wrote. “In line with this approach, this week we are taking further action on so-called ‘QAnon’ activity across the service.”
In addition, we will:
1⃣ No longer serve content and accounts associated with QAnon in Trends and recommendations
2⃣ Work to ensure we’re not highlighting this activity in search and conversations
3⃣ Block URLs associated with QAnon from being shared on Twitter
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) July 22, 2020
The QAnon conspiracy theory is a vague patchwork of beliefs centered on the idea of a “deep state” working to destabilize President Donald Trump. Adherents believe that an anonymous person, nicknamed “Q,” leaves coded messages and directives for his followers. At its most extreme, the theory portends a great final judgment for prominent Democrats and pop culture figures who will face death or a military tribunal for their Satanic and pedophilic practices.
Last week, model and cookbook author Chrissy Teigen became a victim of the swarm, and said she blocked one million accounts.
“I have block chained over one million people, ONE MILLION people today and I am still flooded with sick psychopaths,” she wrote on Twitter. “So please, spare me the ‘just ignore them, they’re just trolls.’”
She reacted to the ban Wednesday, responding to a critic who called the move “censorship.”
“You don’t have a ‘right’ to coordinate attacks and make death threats,” she said. “It is not an ‘opinion’ to call people pedophiles who rape and eat children.”
The conspiracy theory has dribbled out of troll-controlled messaging boards on the fringes of the internet into the mainstream Republican party. Trump frequently retweets QAnon memes and messages, and a slew of QAnon supporters are running for Congress as Republicans — a couple have a good chance of winning their races.
Trump tweeted his congratulations to one of those, Marjorie Greene in Georgia’s 14th district, who is competing in an August runoff after coming out well ahead in the first round. Greene once said in a YouTube video: “I’m very excited about that now there’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take this global cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles out, and I think we have the president to do it.”
Those in Trump’s close orbit have also embraced the incoherent belief system. On Wednesday morning, Rudy Giuliani shared a meme from a QAnon account that claims to show Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) at an al-Qaeda training camp in Somalia.
Can we get rest of this picture? https://t.co/19NG2Pmiey
— Rudy W. Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) July 22, 2020
Trump’s son Eric Trump also recently shared a QAnon meme on his Instagram page.
The conspiracy theory has spread quickly on social media platforms. Facebook employees told the New York Times that their company is planning a similar crackdown on QAnon content next month. The company did not respond to TPM’s questions.
Facebook has recently started adding labels to some of Trump’s false or misleading posts, but not factchecking them. This week, Facebook added flags to posts from both Trump and presumptive nominee Joe Biden about voting that led to government websites to learn more about how to cast a ballot. Trump’s was a false claim that mail-in voting would “corrupt” the election, while Biden’s simply urged readers to vote the President out of office this November.