Life Tech YouTube joins social media QAnon crackdown

YouTube joins social media QAnon crackdown

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Russia's RT news will no longer reap financial rewards for spreading Putin's propaganda. Photo: Getty
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YouTube is following the lead of Twitter and Facebook, saying it is taking more steps to limit QAnon and other baseless conspiracy theories that can lead to real-world violence.

The Google-owned video platform said on Thursday it would prohibit material targeting a person or group with conspiracy theories that have been used to justify violence.

One example would be videos that threaten or harass someone by suggesting they are complicit in a conspiracy such as QAnon, which paints US President Donald Trump as a secret warrior against a supposed child-trafficking ring run by celebrities and “deep state” government officials.

Pizzagate is another internet conspiracy theory – essentially a predecessor to QAnon – that would fall in the banned category. Its promoters claimed children were being harmed at a pizza restaurant in Washington DC.

A man who believed in the conspiracy entered the restaurant in December 2016 and fired an assault rifle. He was sentenced to prison in 2017.

YouTube is the third of the major social platforms to announce policies intended rein in QAnon, a conspiracy theory they all helped spread.

Twitter announced in July a crackdown on QAnon, though it did not ban its supporters from its platform. It did ban thousands of accounts associated with QAnon content and blocked URLs associated with it from being shared. Twitter also said it would stop highlighting and recommending tweets associated with QAnon.

Facebook, meanwhile, announced last week it was banning groups that openly supported QAnon. It said it would remove pages, groups and Instagram accounts for representing QAnon, even if they did not promote violence.

Facebook’s move came two months after it announced a softer crackdown, saying it would stop promoting the group and its adherents. But that effort faltered due to spotty enforcement.

YouTube said it had already removed tens of thousands of QAnon-videos and eliminated hundreds of channels under its existing policies, especially those that explicitly threatened violence or denied the existence of major violent events.