Twitter has removed more than 7,000 accounts linked to the QAnon informal group over abuse and harassment concerns, saying it will limit the spread of conspiracy theories by its supporters.
The fringe group claims “deep state” traitors are plotting against US President Donald Trump. In online conspiracies, the term “deep state” is used to refer to a combination of elites from the intelligence, political, business and entertainment fields, with QAnon’s theories claiming – with no credible evidence – the “deep state” is at a secret war with the Republican president.
QAnon has also claimed that Democratic Party members are behind international crime rings, and its members have targeted Trump’s political opponents on social media with harassment.
Twitter said on Tuesday it would not serve content and accounts associated with QAnon in trends and recommendations, and would block URLs associated with the group from being shared on the platform.
“We’ve been clear that we will take strong enforcement action on behavior that has the potential to lead to offline harm,” the social media giant said on Tuesday.
“In line with this approach, this week we are taking further action on so-called ‘QAnon’ activity across the service.”
“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.”
Some 150,000 accounts will also be hidden from trends and searches on Twitter, a spokesperson said, adding that the social media giant had decided to act because QAnon followers were causing increasing harm.
QAnon’s content has spread widely on mainstream social media platforms such as Facebook, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube. Supporters of the group claim that “Q” or “QAnon” is a mole in the president’s inner circle who has decided to reveal tidbits of intelligence concerning the global conspiracy on fringe internet platforms.
Twitter’s decision comes after nearly 1,000 advertisers announced they were boycotting Facebook, demanding more aggressive action against content that promotes violence and hate.
In April, Facebook removed 20 accounts, five pages and six groups linked to QAnon.