Twitter takes another step forward in the fight against disinformation and hatred messages spread on the net: the managers of the popular social network have announced in the past few hours that they have deleted more than 7,000 accounts for sharing material in support of the conspiracy theories of the group of QAnon; another 150,000 accounts, for similar reasons, will be hidden from trends and searches on Twitter, becoming invisible to the general public.
This is a very important step, because for the first time a social network is openly taking sides against QAnon which is becoming increasingly popular also on Facebook and YouTube. The movement stems from one or more people who claim to be aware of government secrets that reveal a plot against President Trump and his supporters. This alleged classified information was then given feeding on the net which amplified them by triggering hate phenomena and attacks on public figures.
In the crosshairs of QAnon – over time and in various capacities – politicians such as Barack Obama is Hillary Clinton and show business characters like Tom Hanks, but also topics like Coronavirus interpreted in a conspiracy key – QAnon has contributed, for example, to spreading false information such as that the Sars-Cov-2 strains are hiding in flu vaccinations.
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
For Twitter, countering the movement is consistent with the guidelines governing access to the network and prohibiting the spread of hate messages and unfounded information. It is not the first account censorship intervention based on these reasons, but it is the first that has such a high degree of specificity – the movement is countered organically and no longer just individual claims. And besides, Twitter has recently made it clear that it wants to apply these rules without exception – proof of this is the fact that it had no qualms about branding some of President Trump's own statements.
Twitter may not be alone in the fight against QAnon conspiracy theorists: according to what was anticipated by The New York TimesFacebook could announce similar actions by the end of August. Zuckerberg's social network has shown that it has already started to fight at the root some false information supported by the QAnon movement, such as the idea that the use of the masks is counterproductive – yesterday was the news of the closure of one of the most important Facebook groups anti-masks.