The welding of American politics with social media may be the defining moment of a sea change that is taking place at the very top echelons of power in the United States and the world. In the run-up to the 2020 U.S. elections, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube all revealed their inescapable ties to the establishment when they launched an information warfare campaign against their own users and content creators in a bid to shape perceptions and control national discourse on the government’s behalf.
As the most contentious election in living memory drags on days after the vote, itself, the massive purge of profiles and content deemed politically dangerous carried out by the most popular social media platforms just over two weeks before Election Day, went practically unnoticed by everyone other than those who were actually de-platformed and their followers.
In mid-October, Google-owned YouTube and other social media giants purged the accounts of the most popular QAnon channels, spurring a class-action lawsuit against the video streaming platform filed in the Northern District of California later that month.
YouTube said Thursday that it would no longer allow content that targets individuals and groups with conspiracy theories, specifically QAnon and its antecedent, “pizzagate.”
“Today, we are taking another step in our efforts to curb hate and harassment by removing more conspiracy theory content used to justify real-world violence,” the company announced on its blog.
The new rules, an expansion of YouTube’s existing hate and harassment policies, will prohibit content that “threatens or harrasses someone by suggesting they are complicit in one of these harmful conspiracies, such as QAnon or Pizzagate,” the post read.
YouTube said it would be enforcing the updated policy immediately and plans to “ramp up in the weeks to come.”
YouTube’s move to rid the platform of QAnon content follows similar recent changes by other social media platforms. In July, Twitter removed QAnon accounts and restricted QAnon content. Last week, Facebook said it would remove groups, pages and Instagram accounts that identified with QAnon.
Facebook-owned Instagram has announced that will ban all QAnon accounts, including ones that don’t promote violence, while refusing to remove ISIS propaganda accounts that celebrate 9/11 under the justification that “people may express themselves differently.”
In an update to its policy announced yesterday, Facebook said that it was moving beyond a measure taken back in August that removed QAnon accounts which contained “discussions of potential violence.”
“We’ve seen other QAnon content tied to different forms of real world harm, including recent claims that the west coast wildfires were started by certain groups, which diverted attention of local officials from fighting the fires,” said the social media giant.
Facebook specified that it would “remove any Facebook Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts representing QAnon, even if they contain no violent content.”
Many pointed out the hypocrisy of Antifa accounts still being allowed on the platform despite the movement’s involvement in numerous violent riots over the last six months.
QAnon is one of the most annoying things on Twitter and its followers are morons. And, also, it is dangerous and unacceptable that monopolistic Silicon Valley tech plutocrats are exerting more and more control over human communication.
I criticize QAnon constantly and find its acolytes intensely irritating. And, also, I don’t want monopolistic tech billionaires paternalistically protecting my fragile little mind from them.
Twitter shouldn’t be censoring this.
In a corporatist system of government, where few meaningful distinctions exist between corporate power and state power, corporate censorship is state censorship. Permitting such a thing, to any extent, is extremely hazardous for the future of human development.
Twitter announced on Tuesday it has begun taking sweeping actions to limit the reach of QAnon content and banned many of the conspiracy theory’s followers due to ongoing problems with harassment and the dissemination of misinformation.
Twitter will stop recommending accounts and content related to QAnon, including in email and follow recommendations and will take steps to limit content circulation in places like trends and search. This action will affect approximately 150,000 accounts, according to a spokesperson, who asked to remain unnamed due to concerns about the targeted harassment of social media employees.
The Twitter spokesperson also said the company had taken down more than 7,000 QAnon accounts in the last few weeks for breaking its rules on targeted harassment as part of its new policy.
The sweeping enforcement action will ban QAnon-related terms from appearing in trending topics and the platform’s search feature, ban known QAnon-related URLs, and ban “swarming” of victims who are baselessly targeted by coordinated harassment campaigns pushed by its followers.