SAN FRANCISCO – Twitter announced Monday that it had removed more than 70,000 accounts promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory in the past few days as the company stepped up its crackdown on content that could subsequently lead to violence Exclude President Trump from his service last week.
Twitter, which ran the suspensions over the weekend, said it helped curb posts that “have the potential to cause offline damage”. It added that many of the users that were removed had operated multiple QAnon accounts, adding to the total number of accounts that were removed.
“These accounts dealt with the large-scale sharing of malicious QAnon-associated content and were primarily dedicated to spreading this conspiracy theory throughout the service,” the company said in one blog entry.
Social media companies have rushed to distance themselves from the violent mob attack in the Capitol building last week that Mr Trump fueled in social media posts and public comments. After the rampage on Twitter and Facebook blocked Mr. Trump’s accountsbefore he was finally banned from their duties and the president’s megaphones cut off.
Other social media platforms like Snapchat and Reddit have also made efforts to restrict Mr. Trump and toxic speech that could inspire people to be violent in the past few days. Facebook and Twitter have since expanded their promotions. On Monday, Facebook said it would start removing Content related to “Stop the Steal” a rally for Trump supporters who believe the false claim that the election was stolen from Mr. Trump.
The actions of Facebook and Twitter have received praise from liberals and others, but have also raised questions the power of business via online discourse.
The QAnon conspiracy theory has long been strong for Mr. Trump. His believers position Mr Trump as a hero who seeks to root out a global elite of pedophiles who worship Satan. A woman who broke through the Capitol last week and was shot dead Ashli Babbittwas a QAnon believer.
While the conspiracy theory has been established online for years, the social media companies have only moved in the past few months to remove related content. In August last year, Facebook began setting guidelines previously prohibiting QAnon groups promoting violence Expansion of the move in October When you say to remove any group, page or Instagram accounts that openly identify with QAnon.
In July, Twitter has banned 7,000 QAnon accounts and blocked topics related to conspiracy theory from appearing in their trending topics. But the theories have kept popping up on Twitter and other social media platforms, leading to online harassment and physical violence.
The elimination of tens of thousands of QAnon accounts coupled with the routine removal of bots and spammers resulted in noticeable fluctuations in the number of followers for some Twitter users.
That led some users – like the former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and a Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz – to speculate that Twitter is covertly cutting her off from her followers because of her political beliefs.
After Twitter banned Mr. Trump from the platform, some of his supporters called for a protest in front of the company’s headquarters in San Francisco on Monday. City workers set up barricades and the police guarded to prevent disturbances. But their preparations were ultimately not necessary: the protest just pulled a participant.