Twitter has banned thousands of QAnon accounts and limited the reach of around 150,000 others as part of a suppression of what the company says is behavior that could lead to “offline harm.”
“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 a July 21 tweet, characterizing its actions as “work at scale to protect the public conversation in the face of evolving threats.”
A company spokesperson cited by The Wall Street Journal said more than 7,000 QAnon-related accounts have been subjected to outright bans, while circulation would be limited for around 150,000 others.
Other restrictions include blocking QAnon-related URLs from being shared on Twitter and no longer highlighting QAnon activity in searches, conversations, and recommendations, the company said in a separate statement.
Twitter said it’s cracking down on accounts spreading QAnon-related content because of violations of the social media giant’s policies on operating multiple accounts, trying to skirt earlier suspensions, and targeted harassment.
“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—something we’ve seen more of in recent weeks,” Twitter stated.
“These actions will be rolled out comprehensively this week. We will continue to review this activity across our service and update our rules and enforcement approach again if necessary.”
While opinions vary as to its nature and intent, QAnon is a movement that started on 4chan and 8chan message boards with a trickle of clandestine-sounding posts, often centered on the theme of big government plots to curb individual liberties and advance so-called deep state and globalist agendas. It grew into a large underground movement with a number of splinter groups and sometimes claims that members of the world’s social, economic, and political elites have engaged in child sex trafficking, abuse, and cannibalism.
Reactions to the announcement ranged from supportive to critical.
Social media personality Robby Starbuck wrote in response to Twitter’s announcement: “Not a Q follower but Antifa, Louis Farrakhan, Hamas, Iranian terrorists & more terror groups are on Twitter yet you do nothing. Why are you targeting only QAnon? Will you go after these terror/hate groups? Will you investigate alleged bot use by Dem coalition?”
Television personality Chrissy Teigen reportedly blocked more than 1 million accounts after claiming harassment by QAnon followers. She tweeted her support for Twitter’s ban by responding to a post that denounced the crackdown as suppression of free speech.
The account Quantum Mechanic wrote about Twitter’s QAnon ban, “Censorship like this is a communist tactic to silence free thinkers in order to create an homogenous groupthink echo chamber. Actions speak louder than words. Disagreeing with dissenting opinions is one thing. Actively censoring them is another thing entirely.”
Teigen responded to the critical post, writing: “You don’t have a ‘right’ to coordinate attacks and make death threats. It is not an ‘opinion’ to call people pedophiles who rape and eat children.”