Twitter blocks 70,000 QAnon accounts after US Capitol riot

12 January 2021, 18:14

A QAnon sign
Twitter QAnon. Picture: PA

The social media company said it was taking action against online behaviour ‘that has the potential to lead to offline harm’.

Twitter has announced it has suspended more than 70,000 accounts associated with the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory following last week’s US Capitol riot.

The social media company said that given the events last week in Washington DC, where a mob of pro-Trump loyalists tried to violently storm the Capitol building, it was taking action against online behaviour “that has the potential to lead to offline harm”.

In many cases, a single individual operated numerous accounts, driving up the total number of affected accounts, the company said in a blog post.

“These accounts were engaged in sharing harmful QAnon-associated content at scale and were primarily dedicated to the propagation of this conspiracy theory across the service,” the company said.

Twitter’s sweeping purge of QAnon accounts, which began on Friday, is part of a wider crackdown that also includes its decision to ban President Donald Trump from the service over worries about further incitement to violence.

The suspensions mean some Twitter users will lose followers, in some cases by the thousands, the company said.

The QAnon conspiracy theory is centred on the baseless belief that Mr Trump is waging a secret campaign against “deep state” enemies and a child sex trafficking ring run by satanic paedophiles and cannibals.

Twitter has previously tried to crack down on QAnon, removing more than 7,000 accounts in July.

Twitter said it is also stepping up enforcement measures and starting on Tuesday it will limit the spread of posts that violate its civic integrity policy by preventing anyone from replying to, liking or retweeting them.

The policy prohibits attempts to manipulate elections and spread misleading info about their results, with repeated violations resulting in permanent suspension.

By Press Association