Twitter Takes On QAnon
Twitter is stepping in to quell the rise of QAnon followers and conspiracies on the platform. The Q conspiracy theory, which first rose to promince in 2016 with Pizzagate, revolves around a person or people spinning a fantasy (often first on places like Reddit and 4chan before making its way to Twitter) about President Trump as a secret warrior against a “deep state” that enables the abuse and murder of children. Q followers have recently been promoting the false claim that furniture company Wayfair was participating in child trafficking. This fiction began trending on Twitter and was even amplified by prominent influencers. Now, NBC News reports that Twitter has banned 7,000 QAnon-affiliated accounts and limited the reach of 150,000 others.
The Wayfair conspiracy originated with a glitch that raised the prices of items like pillows and cabinets to over $10,000. QAnon followers then suggested that these items were in fact missing children for sale. Emily Herren, fashion and lifestyle blogger, spread the conspiracy theory to her one million Instagram followers in her Stories (Instagram and Facebook have notably been more skittish about implementing any kind of sweeping limitations on this kind of misinformation).
Twitter has classified all QAnon content as “coordinated harmful activity.” It will stop recommending QAnon accounts and posts to its users, and limit their appearance on its trending and search tools. The social media platform will also crack down on “swarming,” which is when online users move as a mob to harass their targets and anyone associated with them.
A high-profile victim of these attacks is model and chef Chrissy Teigen, who is vocally anti-Trump.
“I have block chained over one million people, ONE MILLION people today and I am still flooded with sick psychopaths. So please, spare me the ‘just ignore them, they’re just trolls,’” she tweeted last week.
Twitter confirmed these new measures in a tweet on Tuesday night.
We’ve been clear that we will take strong enforcement action on behavior that has the potential to lead to offline harm. In line with this approach, this week we are taking further action on so-called ‘QAnon’ activity across the service.— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) July 22, 2020