Twitter Takedown Targets QAnon Accounts


In May, Facebook removed a cluster of five pages, 20 Facebook accounts and six groups affiliated with QAnon, saying they had violated its policy against coordinated inauthentic behavior.

After years of taking a hands-off approach to content moderation, Twitter has acted more aggressively in recent months to stem the flood of abuse and harassment on its platform.

Since it became a venue for disinformation during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Twitter has cracked down on content that spreads false information or encourages harassment. In February, it introduced a ban against manipulated photos and videos, a popular method of tricking viewers and spreading disinformation. And in May, it began labeling some of Mr. Trump’s tweets, saying they contained false information or promoted violence.

Twitter’s aggressive enforcement actions have put it on a collision course with Mr. Trump, who has said that Twitter is unfairly silencing conservative voices and has encouraged regulators to crack down on the service. While the QAnon ban was applauded in many circles, some conservatives said Twitter’s move was further evidence that the company unevenly enforced its rules against Mr. Trump’s supporters.

The political attention has added to Twitter’s headaches. A wide-ranging hack last week compromised the Twitter accounts of Democratic political figures, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and former President Barack Obama. Twitter also faces concerns that advertisers are tightening spending during the coronavirus pandemic, and is expected to report its second-quarter earnings this week.

More than two years after QAnon emerged from the troll-infested corners of the internet, supporters of the movement, which the F.B.I. has labeled a potential domestic terrorism threat, are trickling into the mainstream of the Republican Party. Precisely how many candidates, mostly Republicans, are running under the QAnon banner is unclear. Some estimates put the number at a dozen, and few are expected to win in November.

A number of the candidates have sought to spread a core tenet of the QAnon conspiracy: that Mr. Trump ran for office to save Americans from a so-called deep state filled with child-abusing, devil-worshiping bureaucrats. According to QAnon, backing the president’s enemies are prominent Democrats who, in some telling, extract hormones from children’s blood.

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