Twitter suspends more than 70,000 QAnon-linked accounts, resulting in 'changes in follower count' for some

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FOX News contributor Byron York reacts to the President’s permanent ban from Twitter

Twitter on Monday said they have suspended more than 70,000 accounts since Friday that were engaged in sharing “harmful QAnon-associated content,” which they say were dedicated to “the propagation of this conspiracy theory” across the platform.

In a post on Monday, Twitter said that they have been taking strong enforcement action on behavior that has the potential to lead to “offline harm” in the wake of the Capitol riot last week.

“Given the violent events in Washington, DC, and increased risk of harm, we began permanently suspending thousands of accounts that were primarily dedicated to sharing QAnon content on Friday afternoon,” Twitter said Monday.

Twitter said that many of the individuals impacted by their updated enforcement action “held multiple accounts, driving up the total number of accounts impacted.”

“Since Friday, more than 70,000 accounts have been suspended as a result of our efforts, with many instances of a single individual operating numerous accounts,” Twitter said. “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.”

Twitter acknowledged that the updated enforcement on QAnon content “has resulted in changes in follower count for some people’s Twitter accounts.”

“In some cases, these actions may have resulted in follower count changes in the thousands,” Twitter said.

Twitter, on Monday, also said that they have updated their Civic Integrity policy to “aggressively increase our enforcement action” on misleading and false claims surrounding the 2020 presidential election, which “has been the basis for incitement to violence around the country.”

Twitter warned that repeated violations of the policy, including repeated sharing of tweets that receive warning labels, can result in permanent suspension.

Twitter’s update on the removal of accounts related to QAnon content comes after the platform moved to permanently suspend former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn, his attorney Sidney Powell’s account and Ron Watkins’.

A Twitter spokesperson told Fox News that Flynn had been engaged in “harmful activity,” and said his tweets were related to QAnon and calls to violence. 

Watkins is the head of the website 8kun, which had been named 8chan, and hosts posts about the QAnon conspiracy theory.

QAnon is a conspiracy theory centered on the baseless belief that President Trump is waging a secret campaign against enemies in the “deep state” and a child sex trafficking ring run by global elites who are satanic pedophiles and cannibals.

The conspiracy theory emerged on a 4chan message board in late 2017 but has crept into mainstream politics. QAnon followers have appeared at Trump’s rallies wearing clothes and hats with QAnon symbols and slogans.

Meanwhile, Twitter, permanently suspended the @realDonaldTrump account on Friday, following months of flagging his tweets with warnings — and days after the company said he violated its policies.

The platform locked Trump out of his account for the first time this week. The social media company deemed a number of tweets connected to the  violent protests at the Capitol on Wednesday as inflammatory.

“After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” the company wrote in a blog post.

Later, when the president shared three messages from the official @POTUS handle, Twitter quickly took them down. He sent the same text out in a statement to White House reporters, criticizing Twitter as an opponent of free speech and teasing a potential new conservative social media platform in the future.

The official account had, until that point, not shared any tweets since late December. It will be transferred to President-elect Joe Biden after Inauguration Day and remains active.

The president’s account was suspended Wednesday night after he posted a video with a message for protesters who had stormed the Capitol earlier. After violence that led to multiple deaths, Trump told them to “go home,” but maintained that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from him.

Twitter removed the president’s video before suspending his account and warning that further violations of the platform’s policies could result in a “permanent suspension.”

Sharing two tweets from the president Friday, including one in which he said he would not attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, the company argued that they had to be viewed in part of a greater context.

The other read: “The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”

“The mention of his supporters having a ‘GIANT VOICE long into the future’ and that ‘They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!’ is being interpreted as further indication that President Trump does not plan to facilitate an ‘orderly transition’ and instead that he plans to continue to support, empower, and shield those who believe he won the election,” Twitter said in a statement.

The blog post claimed plans for future armed protests over the election results already were being shared both on and off the platform — “including a proposed secondary attack” on Capitol Hill.

“These two Tweets must be read in the context of broader events in the country and the ways in which the President’s statements can be mobilized by different audiences, including to incite violence, as well as in the context of the pattern of behavior from this account in recent weeks,” the company said. “After assessing the language in these Tweets against our Glorification of Violence policy, we have determined that these Tweets are in violation of the Glorification of Violence Policy and the user @realDonaldTrump should be immediately permanently suspended from the service.”

For years, the president has used Twitter to communicate directly to the American people — bypassing the media and other gatekeepers of information. But some of his more fiery tweets have drawn criticism, sometimes from his own party.

Twitter confirmed in early December that special privileges granted to world leaders are rescinded once they leave office. The platform has a public interest exemption for prominent figures whose words are newsworthy and important for their citizens to read, even if they violate the rules.

Trump’s personal Twitter account had more than 88 million followers as of last month. Amid the 2020 presidential election, Twitter began attaching “fact-checking” warnings to some of Trump’s tweets. Messages containing unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud garnered warning tags that read, “This claim about election fraud is disputed.”

Facebook also permanently blocked Trump on Thursday night.

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