Life Tech Twitter suspends 70,000 QAnon accounts as Facebook targets ‘stop the steal’

Twitter suspends 70,000 QAnon accounts as Facebook targets ‘stop the steal’

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Twitter Inc has suspended more than 70,000 accounts that were primarily dedicated to sharing QAnon content after last week’s violence in Washington.

The platform said in a blog on Monday that the accounts had been permanently suspended after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol.

“Given the violent events in Washington, DC, and increased risk of harm, we began permanently suspending thousands of accounts that were primarily dedicated to sharing QAnon content on Friday afternoon”, the company said.

“These accounts were engaged in sharing harmful QAnon-associated content at scale and were primarily dedicated to the propagation of this conspiracy theory across the service”.

QAnon backers have pushed conspiracies on social media that include the baseless claim that Trump is secretly fighting a cabal of child-sex predators, among them prominent Democrats, figures in Hollywood and “deep state” allies.

Twitter said on Friday it would permanently suspend accounts pushing QAnon content, banning prominent right-wing boosters of its conspiracy theories.

Violent rioters stormed the Capitol building last week.

The storming of the Capitol building last week by Trump supporters delayed the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory.

Lawmakers were forced to flee, as the building was mobbed by the president’s supporters who overwhelmed security forces.

Five people died in the violence including one Capitol Police officer who was beaten as he tried to ward off the crowds.

Facebook targets ‘stop the steal’

The move to suspend QAnon accounts by Twitter comes amid a growing push by social media giants making changes and banning content in response to the deadly riots.

Facebook said on Tuesday it would begin a “major civic event” for the following two weeks, with plans to remove certain content containing the phrase “stop the steal” from its social media platforms.

“With continued attempts to organise events against the outcome of the US presidential election that can lead to violence, and use of the term by those involved in Wednesday’s violence in DC, we’re taking this additional step in the lead-up to the inauguration”, the company said in a blog post.

A Facebook spokeswoman clarified the company would allow posts that clearly share the “stop the steal” phrase to either condemn or to discuss neutrally.

Trump supporter wave an american flag near the US Capitol building in DC.

In November, Facebook removed the “Stop the Steal” group in which supporters of US President Donald Trump posted violent rhetoric and false claims of election fraud.

However, the company had not acted against similar rhetoric in the run-up to the election and faced criticism this week for failing to remove posts spurring on the siege of Capitol Hill.

Facebook said on Monday it would add a news digest to Facebook News during inauguration week that would include a live video of the inauguration at the US Capitol on January 20.

The company said it was keeping in place the pause on all advertisements in the US about politics or elections.

-with AAP