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Twitter blocks 70,000 QAnon accounts after U.S. Capitol riot

A QAnon sign at a protest in Olympia, Wash.
A sign promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory at a protest in Olympia, Wash.
(Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)

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

The social media company said Tuesday that, given Wednesday’s events in Washington, where a mob of pro-Trump loyalists violently stormed the Capitol building, it was taking action against online behavior “that has the potential to lead to offline harm.”

In many cases, a single individual operated a large number of the blocked accounts, driving up the total tally, 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.

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

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

The QAnon conspiracy theory is centered on the baseless belief that Trump is waging a secret campaign against “deep state” enemies and a child sex-trafficking ring run by satanic pedophiles and cannibals. Twitter has previously tried to crack down on QAnon, removing more than 7,000 accounts in July.

Twitter said it was also stepping up enforcement measures and, starting Tuesday, would prevent anyone from replying to, “liking” or retweeting posts that violate its civic integrity policy. The policy prohibits attempts to manipulate elections and spread misleading information about their results, with repeated violations resulting in permanent suspension.

Trump and his campaign have continually put out groundless claims of election fraud to explain his loss in November to President-elect Joe Biden.


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