As Twitter works to improve its approach to hate speech, the platform has today announced a new crackdown on right-wing conspiracy group 'QAnon'.
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
In addition, Twitter says that it will:
"Permanently suspend accounts Tweeting about these topics that we know are engaged in violations of our multi-account policy, coordinating abuse around individual victims, or are attempting to evade a previous suspension — something we’ve seen more of in recent weeks."
QAnon linked accounts will also be removed from Twitter's Trends and recommendations, while URLs associated with QAnon will be blocked from being shared on the platform. The expanded action will reportedly impact around 150,000 accounts.
QAnon has gained a fervent following online for purportedly sharing secret insights about the Trump adminstration's ongoing battle against the 'deep state', a collection of elite business people and celebrities who are secretly controlling the world.
As per NBC News:
"QAnon emerged from the fringes of the internet's conspiracy community to become a recognized political phenomenon, with Trump supporters showing up at events with "Q" merchandise. QAnon followers have also been implicated in armed standoffs, attempted kidnappings, harassment and at least one killing since the conspiracy theory first gained traction on the internet in October 2017."
Given this, it comes as little surprise to see Twitter upping its action against the group. In related action, Facebook recently removed over 400 groups linked to the violent 'boogaloo' movement as it also seeks to increase action against hate speech. By non-politicians, of course.
Twitter says that its new enforcement actions will "be rolled out comprehensively" this week.
"We will continue to review this activity across our service and update our rules and enforcement approach again if necessary."
The move makes logical sense, but it will be interesting to see how Trump supporters, and indeed Trump himself, view the new approach, particularly given that Trump has already accused the platform of conservative bias in its enforcement actions.
This latest push will only add to the ongoing tensions between Twitter and the White House, which could become a more significant concern as we head towards the November election.