Twitter Inc. said Tuesday it would permanently suspend accounts that violate its policies while tweeting about QAnon, a fringe group that claims “deep-state” traitors are plotting against U.S. President Donald Trump.
Twitter, which announced the change on its Twitter Safety page, said it would not serve content and accounts associated with QAnon in trends and recommendations, and would block URLs associated with the group from being shared on the platform.
The suspension, which will be rolled out this week, is expected to impact about 150,000 accounts globally, Twitter said. It said that more than 7,000 accounts have been removed in the last several weeks for violating the company’s rules against spam, platform manipulation and ban evasion.
The suspensions will be applied to accounts “engaged in violations of our multi-account policy, co-ordinating abuse around individual victims, or are attempting to evade a previous suspension — something we’ve seen more of in recent weeks,” Twitter said.
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.
In online conspiracies, the term “deep-state” is used to refer to a combination of elites from the intelligence, political, business and entertainment fields, with QAnon’s theories claiming that the “deep-state” is at a secret war with Trump.
QAnon has also claimed that Democratic Party members are behind international crime rings. The group’s content has spread widely on mainstream social media platforms like Facebook, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube. Earlier this year, Facebook removed a U.S. network of fake accounts linked to QAnon.
Last year, the FBI issued a warning about “conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists” and designated QAnon as a potential domestic extremist threat.
What’s not clear is how the social media giant will handle accounts that have a significant profile or involve active politicians.
WATCH | From 2018: What is QAnon?:
The Republican Party has fielded candidates who have been sympathetic or supportive of the group and could see themselves in Congress in January, including: Jo Rae Perkins, a candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in Oregon; Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Congressional candidate for Georgia’s 14th district seat; and Lauren Boebert, a candidate for Colorado’s 3rd district.
“Everything I heard of Q — I hope that this is real because it only means America is getting stronger and better, and people are returning to conservative values, and that’s what I am for,” Boebert said in a May interview.